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The State of North Dakota intends to fulfill the mission of STAGEnet by utilizing an anchor tenant model, a development model for which the State of North Dakota will work with private sector businesses, to deploy increased bandwidth and wireless capability throughout North Dakota. Partnerships with local providers often spurs the deployment of new technologies in both rural and metro communities. When new technologies are brought in to service government agencies and public schools, local consumers often gain new services as a result.

The following objectives illustrate how North Dakota will achieve the development and maintenance of its statewide network:

Objective 1: Develop Statewide Network Access Through an Anchor Tenant Model

By developing partnerships with local telecommunications providers, the State of North Dakota can provide internet services to rural and metro government agencies and schools thereby giving local providers the ability to offer new telecommunications services to area residents. The State of North Dakota will establish partnerships with local telecommunications providers to address current and future needs of STAGEnet relating to increased bandwidth, low network latency, reliable service, security, privacy, wireless connectivity, and low-cost access. As the single largest user of telecommunications networks, STAGEnet will ultimately drive the deployment of new telecommunications services that become available to local consumers.

Objective 2: Increase Bandwidth as Required

Demands for internet access continue to increase by government and education entities to support business functions that ultimately benefit citizens. Many citizens no longer consider going to an office to stand in line as an acceptable form of interaction with government. To meet those needs state government requires fast and reliable internet connectivity to function during peak access times and to accommodate failover. As the demand for greater bandwidths continues to rise, the core’s capacity, too, must increase to help manage the additional workload created from greater bandwidth demand. Because broadband demands are growing quickly, it’s necessary for the State of North Dakota to consider the infrastructure being deployed. The State’s infrastructure must be able to accommodate bandwidth demands which could potentially double every 24-36 months.

Objective 3: Expand Network Connectivity

Broadband services are no longer one of life’s luxuries. It is becoming a way of life. In tough economic times, the risk of pandemics, and the rising costs of fuel and energy, people are looking for alternate ways to conduct business. E-commerce, mobile computing, video conferencing, and Voice-Over-IP are all services that are becoming integrated as business standards for state governments or public schools.

Mobility of the workforce and education are becoming increasingly important. Employers and teachers are currently evaluating the use of technology incorporating remote locations. Plus, Ethernet services have allowed many rural schools to remain open and meet their classroom technology needs, primarily through the use of video conferencing. For example, STAGEnet hosts about 15,000 video conferences for K-12 schools and approximately 1,000 for state government agencies annually.

In order for state government and education to deliver the necessary services to its people, a network infrastructure must be in place and available to all communities. To meet the business needs of STAGEnet’s stakeholders, bandwidth must continue to increase to support new technologies.

Objective 4: Improve Statewide Mobile Communications

A multi-technology strategy to improve mobile connectivity can help address internet coverage issues in remote areas. In order to advance North Dakota’s statewide network, STAGEnet must be upgraded to extend greater bandwidth, broadband services, and depth to all rural communities using wireline, fiber optic, wireless, and other commercially viable emerging technologies.

North Dakotans are underserved in the area of Public Safety. Although the current infrastructure is adequate for voice telecommunications, limited bandwidth does not lend itself well for modern day data services. Emergency communications in North Dakota requires a statewide mobile broadband emergency communications network that is accessible anywhere, anytime to first responders and other public safety partners. Current estimated voice coverage simulations may be viewed in the Radio Coverage Area Maps published by State Radio.

The ability to consolidate communication functions and services into an improved streamlined service model built around the Internet Protocol (IP) could give the state many valuable applications that could be used by government agencies and schools as well as North Dakota citizens. The absence of those types of technologies continues to limit and delay future State initiatives. Examples of desired initiatives that send data from mobile and/or fixed base stations throughout North Dakota for a number of functions include:

  • Weather Station Data Transmission
  • Live Weather Feeds for the Department of Transportation(DOT) and the Public
  • DOT’s Weights-in-Motion System
  • Live Police and Emergency Vehicle Video Transmission
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Applications
  • State Message Board Solutions
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Applications for First Responders

To meet strategic objectives the State will again use the anchor tenant model to spur deployment of a broadband networks that can support the convergence of voice and data technologies. The resulting networks will be made available to local telecommunications consumers as well as public safety entities. The increased bandwidth will help public safety entities communicate more effectively in their efforts to serve and protect citizens statewide.

Key Success Measurements

The success of STAGEnet will be measured by the following:

  • Percent of North Dakota land mass with PSBL in-band interoperable public safety broadband and public safety P-25 voice coverage. Target is 98%
  • Percent of North Dakota residents with broadband access. Target is 100%
  • Number of telecommunications private sector jobs created/saved. Tracking