The Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT) recently began a major initiative to upgrade Kentucky State Government's communication network infrastructure. The existing network, referred to as the Kentucky Information Highway, or KIH1, was initially established in 1991. The new network will be called the Kentucky Information Highway – 2nd Generation, or KIH2. Like KIH1, KIH2 is a joint partnership between Kentucky and BellSouth, the prime provider, and includes numerous other network providers as subcontractors under BellSouth's direction. The new KIH2 will offer expanded services, lower rates, improved reliability and superior performance.
Communication services currently provided under KIH1 include: long distance voice circuits; data circuits; 800 service; calling cards; contract management; single point of contact for provisioning (installation of new data circuits); and consolidated invoicing and problem resolution. KIH1 did not include Internet access as one of its services. The KIH2 contract, which was awarded in January 2005 after a lengthy RFP effort, will provide all these services and many more, including Internet access for state government. The new contract initially covers a five-year period and may be renewed annually for five additional years.
The new KIH2 contract offers cost savings along with many technological advances. KIH2 uses Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), a network labeling methodology, to bring greater resiliency and fault tolerance to the state's wide area network. As a result, circuit outages that occur in the provider's part of the network, or "network cloud," will no longer affect the state's network users. The new network will also be able to support both Quality of Service (QOS) and Class of Service (COS) capabilities to enable rich collaboration applications such as interactive video and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). In addition, COT negotiated significant service level agreements into the new contract to ensure that its partners maintain the network's high quality and high performance over its entire life.
To aid in the transition to KIH2, two new categories of network services were established in the contract, referred to as Category A and Category B services. KIH2 Category B services were established specifically for migration purposes, and are essentially the same as the current services available under KIH1. Category A services are new network services that utilize MPLS technology. The Category A Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service, for example, will provide a direct network connection to KIH2 without having to traverse the Internet. This will provide a much more reliable and resilient wide area network.
The state's migration to KIH2 Category B services began in May with selected educational users and will be complete by the end of 2005. New requests for network services are already being provisioned as KIH2 Category B services and will continue to be handled in this manner until October. At that time, where appropriate, new requests will be provisioned as KIH2 Category A services. In January 2006, COT will begin converting most network circuits and services to KIH2 Category A services.
The migration to the new Kentucky Information Highway 2 is not expected to be easy, but the results will make the effort worthwhile. The new KIH2 is already beginning to offer lower rates, improved performance, greater reliability and new services that should carry the state well into the 21st century.
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