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HB 2390 Update: More About Kan-ed and Its Services

By Christopher Renner
Opinion | March 23, 2011

TOPEKA, Kan. - In response to yesterday's posting on the efforts by the telecom industry in Kansas to undo the Kan-ed program, I received the following statement from Bradley S. Williams, M.S., CIO & Executive Director of Kan-ed. It outlines well the programs and services provided by Kan-ed to the people of Kansas:

I am reaching out to you directly today because Cox Communications (Wichita), who is a Kan-ed Authorized Provider, has elected to lobby against Kan-ed members and their funding. Cox Communications has asked House Speaker Mike O'Neal (R-Hutchinson) to introduce House Bill 2390 to eliminate Kan-ed effective July 1, 2011. The Speaker of the House indicated yesterday he is supportive of the bill and we also know that Representative Joe McLeland (R-Wichita), is also pushing to dismantle Kan-ed as he has done every year since Kan-ed inception.

If Cox and the Speaker are successful with HB 2390, then all Kan-ed connections and services will go away. That includes all network and video connections, Renovo Video scheduler, licenses, and servers, MCU, Kan-edLiveTutor.com (homework Kansas), Empowered Desktop and LS test builder, EMResource (hospitals ER database) and E-rate support just to name a few... all gone.

Contrary to what Cox has told legislators, there is no pot of money that Kan-ed can be funded from at the federal level. Further, all Kan-ed services would cease to exist on July 1, 2011... three months from now. ALL network connections and services. The majority of telecom providers in the State receive funding from the Kansas Universal Service Fund. That fund is stable, and Kan-ed has as much right to use KUSF funds from that as any telecom provider in the State does. That has been validated by the KCC and FCC. In fact, the federal government has proposed REDUCING funds to the majority of Kansas telecom providers starting in 2012-2013... so Cox would have Kan-ed disbanded at a time when our members need our services the most.

I would ask you to reach out and ensure that this terrible, uninformed legislative bill is "squashed". I apologize to all of you that receive this e-mail several times... but I'd rather have you receive it multiple times than not at all! Here is the contact information for Cox Corporate offices and the offices in Wichita in case you would like to let them know how you feel:

From the Cox Customer Contact Page on their Corporate Website:

Customers trying to reach our Corporate Offices should call (888) 566-7751 or send an email message to: coxcorp.customerrelations@cox.com

Kansas Customer Service and Billing 1-800-620-6196

Kansas Account Services - 1-888-952-3278

Cox Kansas Main Switchboard - 316-219-5000

Here are some links to important Kan-ed information (Legislative benefit sheets): kan-ed.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=67&Itemid=49

And here for impact stories: kan-eddata.org/impact

Also, here are some additional talking points that can be used:

  1. Kan-ed connects over 440 members (K-12 schools, Libraries, Hospitals and Higher Education) with daily internet access and access to a private network (leased from AT&T) for distance learning and telemedicine. This is essentially a "commercially" run network. A public-private partnership. Kan-ed partners with over 20 private telecom companies (including Cox) to provide high-speed internet to our members. The private industry also provides our network operations center (KanREN in Lawrence). A conservative estimate is that at least 50 high-tech jobs would be impacted by elimination of Kan-ed. Kan-ed administrative overhead is about 7.5%. ALL of Kan-ed services are purchased or leased from private companies.
  2. Kan-ed has provided over $21 million directly to Kan-ed member institutions in the form of technology grants. This has been critical to keep our members up with changing technology... including distance learning and telemedicine. Close to another $500,000 has been provided to KANSAS phone companies for the direct purpose of enhancing their networks to support access to Kan-ed. Kan-ed has provided the Regents universities with over $1,000,00 in grants to support the new high-speed KanREN network that university researchers at KU and K-State use most heavily. The rural telephone companies have just announced a partnership with AT&T to implement the same technology Kan-ed uses. This will INCREASE the amount of private companies that can connect with Kan-ed.
  3. Kan-ed has RETURNED federal dollars that were not right for the State of Kansas and had too many strings attached. Kan-ed has not requested any budget increase from the State since inception in CY2003. Kan-ed has been prudent with budgeted funds and has made decisions based on our mission and our ability to live off our base funding... not on grant parameters from the federal government. We also work closely with the FCC and KCC, who both recognize Kan-ed as an official eligible telecom entity.
  4. Kansas Universal Service Fund (KUSF) which currently funds Kan-ed at $10,000,000 per year is assessed through an "average" .25 cent per phone line / per month assessment on a monthly phone bill. If Kan-ed were eliminated, then the rate collected would be reduced by the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC). There would be no transfer of KUSF funds to the SGF. Therefore, the bill killing Kan-ed would result in ZERO savings to the State of Kansas and TREMENDOUS pain to the Kan-ed membership.
  5. Kan-ed also collects and surveys our members for aggregated demand and then provides critical access to demanded services with statewide licenses for educational and research databases... for example, we provide the "ProQuest Nursing Journal" which meets a required resource criteria for public and private higher education institutions that have accredited nursing programs. Our members also have access to Worldbook Online and these Gale database titles:
    • Academic OneFile
    • Agriculture Collection
    • Books & Authors
    • Business Economics and Theory
    • Business and Company ASAP
    • Business and Company Resource Center
    • Communications and Mass Media Collection
    • Computer Database
    • Criminal Justice Collection
    • Culinary Arts Collection
    • Custom Newspapers
    • Discovering Collection
    • Educator's Reference Complete
    • Environmental Studies and Policy
    • Expanded Academic ASAP
    • Fine Arts and Music Collection
    • Gale Virtual Reference Library
    • Gardening, Landscape and Horticulture
    • General OneFile
    • General Reference Center Gold
    • Health Reference Center Academic
    • Health and Wellness Resource Center
    • History Resource Center: U.S.
    • History Resource Center: World
    • Home Improvement Collection
    • Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure
    • InfoTrac Military and Intelligence
    • InfoTrac Religion & Philosophy
    • InfoTrac Religion and Philosophy
    • Informe
    • Infotrac Custom Newspapers
    • Junior Edition
    • Junior Reference Collection
    • Kids InfoBits
    • LegalTrac
    • LitFinder
    • Literature Resource Center
    • Literature Resource Center (Z39)
    • Literature Resource Center - Periodicals
    • Military and Intelligence Database
    • Nursing Resource Center
    • Nursing and Allied Health Collection
    • Popular Magazines
    • Professional Collection
    • Psychology Collection
    • Student Edition
    • Student Resource Center Gold
    • Student Resources In Context
    • U.S. History In Context
    • World History In Context
  6. Kan-ed provides a website portal where Kan-ed members can go for information and enhanced services. Over 420,000 members have user accounts on the Kan-ed Empowered Desktop portal. Schools and district administrators have access to formative tests, quizzes, and district-wide results (optional fee service), and have access to a safe search engine as required by the Children's Internet Protection Act. Kan-ed also provides CIPA filtering at the network level to further reduce K-12 and Library filtering costs. Kan-ed also provides students, staff and faculty with an online "backpack" to store documents and files so they can access them anywhere they are! Not all students (especially those in rural areas) have access to a PC at home.
  7. Kan-ed is providing resources on the statewide Broadband initiative, statewide Health Information Technology initiative, and statewide Enhanced E911 initiative. Kan-ed is involved as a common cog... and eliminating it will have impact on other areas of the state and even state government. In fact, last week we hosted a 41 site video conference for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. We did this as stewards and did not charge KDHE for the video session. This resulted in hundreds of participants not needing to travel and simple cost avoidance. In fact, Kan-ed facilitated over 36,000 video sessions in 2010 and 2011 is set to be a record year with over 10,000 video sessions already completed from January 1 through March 14th, 2011.
  8. The federal government has established the U.S. UCAN (United States United Community Anchor Network). It will provide a national backbone and additional "fast" internet highways for states to connect schools, libraries and hospitals... also called "community anchor institutions". Kan-ed will be making that connection on behalf of our members instead of individual connections which will increase costs to Kansas and decrease efficiencies to the State of Kansas. There is no federal funding provided to connect to this network... members will be required to bear the cost for connectivity if Kan-ed is eliminated. Access to Internet will also go away for Kan-ed members should the bill pass.
  9. Kan-ed provides a program called "EMResource" which sits in the ER in every hospital in Kansas and lets doctors and nurses know availability in terms of specialty units (burn and other) and doctors that are available should such resources become necessary in a mass disaster or casualty. Kan-ed provides the full grant funding for this program as a service to hospitals... and Kansas was the first state in the nation to do such...and Kansas is considered a model in its deployment. When the tornado struck Greensburg... the Kan-ed router and connection was the ONLY connection to the outside world and was re-purposed for federal and state emergency use. Also, EMResource was used... very powerful stories.

This is in no way an exhaustive list of Kan-ed services... but I think it will help you better understand the ramifications of HB 2390 should Cox, the Speaker and Rep. McLeland have their way.

In addition I was provided the Memo that Cox Communication has sent out to their branch offices.

Cox Business Customers:

It has come to our attention that the Kan-ed director has informed all Kan-ed users Cox Communications is trying to eliminate Kan-ed. It is unfortunate that a State agency is attempting to single out our company and we want to pro-actively communicate with our customers to ensure you understand this issue.

Cox has a long history of supporting the schools in the communities we serve. Annually, Cox has given charitable funds to educational entities in Kansas. Cox also has many partnerships with Kan-ed, but when it comes to Kansas tax payer dollars Cox encourages a healthy review of all corners of government.

The communications industry and specifically the cable industry have a long history with the concept of Kan-ed. We have expressed concerns over the years with government becoming a market participant. The cable industry supports HB 2390 due to the road map Kan-ed introduced earlier in the year in HB 2021. We are specifically concerned that Kan-ed intends to do the following:

  1. Expand their client base to any not-for-profit entity,
  2. Enter into the phone business,
  3. Remove the competitive bid requirements,
  4. Prohibit the private sector from impairing any public contract.

These are major expansions beyond the scope of what Kan-ed was designed to do. To make matters worse, Mr. Williams did not inform his Advisory Board, nor did he present the information to the Board of Regents in any meaningful or descriptive manner prior to taking these actions. Cox Communications highly values our customers and our communities we serve. We often put our resources behind our values. We appreciate your willingness to take a moment and consider our position.

Thank you,
Jay Allbaugh
Vice President, Government and Public Affairs
901 S. George Washington Blvd.
Wichita, KS 67211
316.260.7000 tel

www.cox.com

This outlines Cox's thinking, but it also demonstrates their total disregard for those who are not members of the rich elite. There is no reason why Kansans should not have access to affordable broadband connections.

Last year I paid $821.63 for my Cox Cable medium speech connection. What working class family of four can afford that expense?

No reason exists for broadband connectivity to cost so much, other than making profits. After all the corporations receive numerous federal and state incentives and enjoy a infrastructure that was largely build with tax-payer dollars.

Having Internet connectivity is rapidly emerging as a basic human right, because without it, people cannot actively participate in our - or any - democracy. Once again, Europe is way ahead of us on providing this service to its people.

Kan-ed is a model program that has benefited all Kansans.

We need to fight this corporate effort to deny Kansans connectivity.


2 Comments

Even though I was on the college board when we applied for and received a grant, I didn't know, in detail, what that grant provided.

I just talked with our business manager, at the college, but he didn't know yet how or how much we would be affected if this bill passes. We are still using Kan-Ed for online courses. He supposed there were private companies that could provide services, but didn't know how competitive the pricing was or even how extensive the services would be.

At best it would seem to me we will be transfering funding from one taxing agency to another. How much savings, to taxpayors, that will produce is questionable.


I just don't get it. We want to be the most competitive nation in the world but we constantly go after education funding. Kan-Ed provides funding for a lot in the education community. We should be looking at other sources of spending for cuts. Education is the one thing that will help us get ahead.


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