Ed Toner

Blog: Network Nebraska, a model partnership

I almost titled this blog, “Passion for your work” but I didn’t want to deflect from the main message of Interagency Partnership and the Nebraska Network. Last Friday I looked over my calendar and saw a meeting to update me on Network Nebraska and noticed Tom Rolfes, Education I.T. Manager name on the invite. The first time we met he was very passionate about the Network Nebraska project and I was looking forward to finishing the week with his update. I was not disappointed……… most of the information you will learn below came from Tom. He will claim the success of the project was a cooperative spirit and a commonsense vision. I believe he is only partially correct, he leaves out his passion for the project which is contagious.



What is Network Nebraska? Network Nebraska Logo

This statewide education network began in 2006 at the request of the state Legislature, but with no upfront money and no infrastructure. The State CIO’s Office, in partnership with the University of Nebraska, was tasked with interconnecting all of the public schools, educational service units, and colleges together on a single network. Nine years later, Nebraska has leased a statewide backbone, is purchasing 24 Gigabits of Internet, and has achieved over 99% participation by its public education entities, 20% participation by private schools, and 50% participation by private colleges.

This project is completely voluntary, completely self-funded, and has no full-time employees. It does have a passionate spokesman with Tom and great partnerships across the State, and as a result Network Nebraska has achieved one of the lowest commodity Internet rates in the entire U.S.

Who are the Partners?

The Office of the CIO and the University of Nebraska cooperatively manage the administration and technical infrastructure on a daily basis. The Nebraska Department of Education, Public Service Commission, Nebraska Information Technology Commission, and the Department of Administrative Services also contribute valuable expertise and assistance.

Nebraska schools and educational service units work together with public and private colleges in providing recommendations on network budgets, cost recovery, and infrastructure. The Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council manages the clearinghouse of distance education opportunities.

This spirit of cooperation, collaboration, and partnership has led to greatness, and a statewide project that daily serves over 400,000 students and 30,000 staff with Internet and distance learning courses to the farthest reaches of this state.

I believe this is a public resource and project that we can all be proud of as taxpayers.


If you’d like to read more about Network Nebraska, please visit networknebraska.ne.gov/

Neb. Rev. Stat. 86-5,100 http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=86-5,100