Ahead Communications Sets New Direction for Distance Learning: Solution Expands Educational Reach to Rural Texas

October 10, 2001

Ahead Communications Systems, Inc recently announced it has deployed its packet-based, multimedia distance-learning solution for the Hill-Navarro Electronic Consortium, Inc. located in Hill and Navarro Counties in Central Texas.

This is a significant milestone that demonstrates the consortium’s pioneering role in providing greater educational opportunities to a wider population. The Ahead Communications multimedia network supports K-12 education and provides links to college campuses for access to accelerated and specialized curriculum support. The network complements other educational efforts in continuing education and adult training.

Created in 1993, the Consortium has been in the forefront of determining how telecommunications can be utilized by small, rural school districts. The Hill-Navarro Consortium implementation of this packet-based distance education network comes on the cusp of the State of Texas’ bold plan to invest in advanced telecommunications technology for enabling greater opportunities in education, health care, and the global marketplace. The State of Texas under House Bill 2128 has targeted $1.5 billion dollars toward the development of a new statewide telecommunications infrastructure. This infrastructure capitalizes on tools such as interactive broadband video with supplemental Internet access to bolster “public access to an advanced communications technology network.” The Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board created under the legislation and appointed by Governor (now President) George W. Bush is authorized “to provide equipment and infrastructure needed for distance learning” and related projects. Governor Bush stressed in his visit in 1998 that the Consortium was implementing what had been envisioned when the House Bill 2128 legislation was approved by the Texas legislature.

“Ahead Communications is a trend setter in providing distance learning services solutions for participating schools in the Hill-Navarro Consortium,” said Bill Abraham, Vice President of Sales for North America. “The DVD quality of our video solution creates a meaningful interactive experience with a true virtual presence between teachers and students. As an added benefit the same system enables access to the Internet and provides for other community needs as well.”

The key components of the Hill-Navarro distance learning solution include the award winning MAC 500 video access concentrator from Miranda Media Networks, Ahead Communications ACX video switching technology, and the TODD Video Network Management reservations, administration and conference automation software. The MAC 500 provides low delay, low bandwidth, MPEG-2 DVD quality video and audio as well as high speed Ethernet for Internet access. The MAC 500’s at the schools communicate across an Ahead Communications ACX packet video switch. The ACX provides SVC capable video services to multiple locations, offers quality of service separation of real-time video and non-real time data traffic, and utilizes the same SNMP-based management system as the MAC 500 for ease of operation and maintenance. The fully integrated TC Reliance™ Video Manager from TODD Video Network Management simplifies distance learning network management and automates classroom sessions. Signal transmission between the rural sites is via a 4 hop, 1 DS-3, 6 GHz microwave system.

“It is truly rewarding to put a vision into practice with the aid of sophisticated multimedia technology,” said Dr. Wayne Matthews, Hill-Navarro Electronic, Inc. Consortium Administrator. “The professional support of the Ahead Communications team was outstanding throughout the planning, installation, and implementation phases of the network.”

About the Hill Navrarro Electronic Consortium, Inc.

The Hill-Navarro Electronic Consortium, Inc. with its offices in Dawson, Texas was formed to meet the learning and informational needs of the residents of five rural school districts located in north central Texas. Hill-Navarro was awarded a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to upgrade its existing analog infrastructure to a digital infrastructure in order to provide education, health, library, and government services to area students and community members through the use of two-way interactive video equipment. The five independent school districts that will benefit from the grant include Blooming Grove, Bynum, Dawson, Frost, and Hubbard and will serve approximately 2,517 students and 4,257 rural residents.

About Ahead Communications Systems

Ahead Communications Systems is a leading edge, international telecommunications supplier, delivering broadband packet switching and multi-service access solutions to customers in over 70 countries worldwide. AheadCom’s product suite provides intelligent network “SPANS” that bridge the gap between the network edge and the customer premise while ensuring compatibility with legacy networks. It is these network “SPANS” which allow for optimization of the core network -reducing costs while maximizing efficiency for telecom providers and large enterprises. Ahead Communications is based in Vienna, Austria, and is a member of the DSL Forum, ETSI, and the SHDSL Interoperability Lab Consortium (UNH). Created through a spin-off of Ericsson’s DSL Competence Center in 1999, AheadCom currently has 250+ employees and more than 300,000 systems deployed worldwide.