During the 2000-2001 school year, the Village of Skokie acquired a brand new high-speed fiber-optic-cable network running underground throughout the village. This was the “I-Net” (short for Institutional Network). For educators, the I-Net represented a challenge and an exciting invitation to create richer and more engaging multimedia learning environments for students. Other governmental agencies within Skokie (i.e., the parks, the library and the village government), saw in the network an opportunity to purchase affordable high-speed internet connectivity. For all of these organizations, the new network provided the promise of enhanced cooperation through ease of communication and the possibility of sharing web-based resources.
Who built the I-net and what does it do?
The I-Net was installed by the cable company 21st Century (now RCN), when it became the cable TV provider for Skokie. In their negotiations with the village to gain this franchise, 21st Century agreed to provide cable and other equipment for Skokie’s public institutions, including its schools. By winter 2004, the final “i” was dotted, the final “t” was crossed, and the final routers and switches were in place, thanks to generous donations of equipment and other help from RCN, Cisco Systems, Inc., Sentinel Technologies, and ICN itself.
With the activation of the new network in the winter of 2004, almost all the public schools in Skokie (Districts 69, 72, 73, 73½ and 219), as well as Skokie’s parks, library and village government, gained access to shared connectivity to the Internet via a high-speed DS3 cable. When District 68 completed its connection during the summer, all the Skokie public schools were included.
District 219 acts as fiscal agent for the Skokie I-Net group, paying the monthly invoice for ISP services and invoicing the other member organizations in turn. The 1 GB uplink to the Internet provides enough bandwidth to allow for expansion of the I-Net group without adverse effect to service. Adding members to the consortium lowers the shared costs. The Hebrew Theological College has also become part of the Skokie I-Net group. The offer is still open to other private schools in Skokie.