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Comcast Business Services connects distance learning initiatives for college

Tue, 08/21/2012 - 12:55pm
Mike Robuck

Comcast Business Services is fueling the Community College of Baltimore County’s distance learning initiatives through its Ethernet services.

The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) is using Comcast’s Ethernet services in its “Fab Lab,” which is an interactive workshop that allows users to take advantage of digital fabrication technologies by using files of two- or three-dimensional computer drawings to replicate products onto different types of equipment.

With the connectivity from Comcast, more than 72,000 students and members of the local college community can access various videoconferencing capabilities, while also connecting with their peers in other Fab Labs around the world.

"The CCBC Fab Lab is open to students, faculty and the general public, which meant that we needed a reliable high-speed Internet connection that would be able to accommodate the increasing bandwidth demands that we'd be placing on our network each day while also minimizing lag time," said William Werneke, the Fab Lab manager at CCBC. "We've been a Comcast customer for almost a decade and have always been extremely pleased with our service, so choosing to upgrade our existing Internet connection was an easy decision for us."

Originally created as an outreach project through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), Fab Labs have spread from inner city Boston to rural India, South Africa, Norway and beyond. Each lab contains digital fabrication equipment and materials that can be used to create anything from solar and wind-powered turbines, thin-client computers, and analytical instrumentation for agriculture to custom housing, furniture and prosthetics. A total of 40 of these 118 labs are located in the United States, and CCBC is currently the only one operating in Maryland.

CCBC added Ethernet Network Service (ENS) from Comcast to assist in the school's transfer of data, voice and video among its three main campuses and three satellite locations. It also installed an Ethernet Dedicated Internet (EDI) line to provide high-speed Web access and enhance the school's videoconferencing and distance learning initiatives for both on- and off-campus students and faculty.

"Schools like CCBC are increasingly taking advantage of remote collaboration tools like the Fab Lab to create borderless classrooms that encourage learning even beyond campus walls," said John Whalen, regional vice president for Comcast Business Services. "These initiatives require the use of high-performance, reliable connectivity, and Comcast has the infrastructure in place to help support them in these goals."

In its second-quarter earnings report earlier this month, Comcast said its business services revenue increased by 34 percent.

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