The UW System has a plan to start up its own Internet network

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MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The UW System has a plan to start up its own Internet network to serve all its campuses and switch away from a provider they've used for almost a quarter-century.

UW Stout said the creation of the network is the result of legislation passed in 2011.
It required all 24 of UW System universities to move away from WiscNet- a non-profit that provided high-speed internet services to them for nearly 25 years.

Back then some republicans claimed WiscNet put private vendors at disadvantage.
Now UW Stout hopes the required transition will go as seamless as possible.

“We had everything we needed before; now we're moving in a different direction,” explained Chief Information Officer with UW-Stout Doug Wahl.

Planning for the new network started six months ago. Wahl called it a plan ‘B’ after the separation process from WiscNet began.

“Our main investment is in the fiber right now that will just enhance it. The electronics makes the network happen,” said Wahl.

Right now WiscNet still runs the UW electronic network. Once the transition plan is approved the UW system will buy its own electronics for the internet services.

“The projection right now it’s going to cost us $30 million over five years. But I think towards the end it will be anywhere between 20-30 percent more than we're paying right now,” said Wahl.

The transition is scheduled to take between 14 and 18 months. After that, Wahl hopes Stout will have a ten-gigabit pipe instead of a one-gigabit; that will improve widely-used internet services on campus.

“You need it now. Everything you do is on fast network,” said UW-Stout Freshman Alicia Georgi.

Wahl says the goal is to switch over seamlessly, so that no network users on campus could ever tell there ever was a change.

“It's imperative that we have at least just as good if not better network when this is done. I don't think higher education can exist without it anymore,” added Wahl.

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