Editor’s note: Now in its fourth year, the 12 Days of Broadband begin this week highlighting a dozen innovations directly impacted by the expanding reach of high-speed connectivity this year in North Carolina and throughout the country.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – What is broadband?

The technical definition sets broadband speed today as 4 Mbps. Anything less in the government’s view is not actually broadband. For many years, that definition worked just fine, but these days that doesn’t get you very much.

All the things we do online today require a lot more bandwidth. Over the next month we will highlight some of the bigger stories in broadband this year, look ahead to 2015, and discover where North Carolina is the telecom landscape.

So, let’s officially kick-off the fourth annual 12 Days of Broadband.

MCNC, the technology non-profit that builds, owns, and operates the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), will launch this year’s 12 Days of Broadband on Thursday with a series of stories throughout December.

Beginning Dec. 4 through Dec. 19, the 12 Days of Broadband will showcase a dozen broadband innovations impacting everyone in North Carolina and across America as well as preview what’s to come next year.

“This year MCNC celebrates the 30th anniversary of NCREN,” said MCNC President and CEO Jean Davis. “The 12 Days of Broadband is a great way to showcase how investments in network bandwidth in North Carolina can help ensure our citizens and institutions are prepared to thrive in today’s interconnected economy.”

For three decades NCREN has provided the broadband infrastructure to connect North Carolina citizens to the path of success. The expanded NCREN of today is 2,600 miles spanning almost every county in North Carolina. Today‘s users of NCREN include all 17 institutions of the University of North Carolina System, all 58 North Carolina Community Colleges, all 115 K-12 public school districts as well as a growing number of charter and private schools, the majority of the state’s private colleges and universities, several non-profit and public health care facilities, and a number of the state’s premier research institutions. NCREN also serves as the Internet gateway network for all state employees.

The 12 Days of Broadband will spotlight such efforts as E-Rate reform, the future of gigabit and next-generation networks in North Carolina, Wi-Fi, spectrum and digital learning initiatives, net neutrality, health care and more.

It’s been another exciting year for connectivity in North Carolina. This will be a year we all look back at some point as a “rebuilding year of telecom” as we see data speeds getting faster and faster, more awareness of the country’s digital divide, the brains of networking moving to the cloud, more mobile use, and the explosion of streaming video and music.

In North Carolina, MCNC continues to set the pace for national research and education networking by leveraging NCREN for true high-performance broadband connectivity for community institutions in K-20 public and private education, non-profit health care, public safety and many federal, state and private research institutions.

Those on Twitter also can follow the 12 Days of Broadband using #12days or follow directly at @MCNC.