Wichita State chosen as site for Kansas’ first Internet Exchange Point

  • The carrier neutral Internet Exchange Point will be funded by a $5 million grant from the state. 
  • It will be the first IXP facility in Kansas and the only one in the country to be located on a university campus. 
  • "It promises to revolutionize the way our schools — from urban to rural areas — access and utilize the internet," said Rob Dickson, chief information officer of Wichita Public Schools.

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The first Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Kansas is slated to be located at Wichita State University, improving internet performance, affordability and reliability for WSU, Innovation Campus and Shocker Neighborhood users and for users across much of Kansas.  

The announcement was made Nov. 29 by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, whose administration has awarded a $5 million grant to fund the construction of the facility. It will be owned and operated by Connected Nation Internet Exchange Points (CNIXP) LLC, a joint venture between Kentucky-based nonprofit Connected Nation and carrier hotel pioneer Hunter Newby.   

If the site is approved by the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR), the IXP will be located on a vacant lot owned by WSU at the northwest corner of East 21st Street North and Fountain Avenue, directly across from WSU’s Eck Stadium. 

CNIXP will provide space and services for Wichita State to establish a network interconnection presence in the facility at no cost for 40 years.

Having an IXP in Wichita will be a game changer, making local and regional internet connectivity faster and more secure.

"A connected community is a stronger community," said WSU President Rick Muma. "A carrier-neutral IXP located in the heart of Kansas at Wichita State will build bridges of connectivity and access to meet the ever-evolving demands of education and commerce to all Kansans.”

“WSU's dedication to digital transformation is further amplified through this broadband infrastructure, offering meaningful applied learning prospects for our students and accessible and affordable connectivity to our region," said Tonya Witherspoon, WSU's associate vice president for industry engagement and applied learning.

Economic development

IXPs, which are common in many large metropolitan areas, are internet hubs where all types of networks exchange data traffic. Developing an IXP in Wichita is an economic development win for the area.

“The IXP will not only support the Wichita State community and its Innovation Campus partners,” said Tom Ferree, chairman and CEO of Connected Nation, “it will also support economic development by improving the entire regional broadband landscape — preparing Wichita, and Kansas more broadly, for the future evolution of the Internet and all that it will enable. The facility will also put Kansas ‘on the map’ for new long-haul fiber optic cable builds and will directly support the state’s new open-access fiber optic conduit system that is being built under a separate $42.5 million federal grant that was awarded to the Kansas Department of Commerce back in June. We couldn’t be more thrilled about this opportunity.”

Robin Huber is vice president of Core Software and Data Management and the Wichita site manager for NetApp, which is located on WSU’s Innovation Campus. Huber says he’s excited about the opportunities a local IXP can bring to the region.

“For many companies, low latency and high bandwidth at reasonable cost are not only important to their operations, but in many instances can also provide a competitive advantage,” says Huber. “From that standpoint, this has great potential to bring more companies and therefore economic growth to the state and our local region and the fact that the IXP is carrier neutral is of great importance in that regard. As a partner on the WSU Innovation Campus, NetApp is looking forward to having an IXP this close and seeing what benefits we can derive, not only locally but also nationally.”

Rob Dickson, chief information officer of Wichita Public Schools, says this represents more than simply a technological advancement.

“We're heralding a new era of connectivity and digital empowerment,” Dickson says. “This state-of-the-art IXP represents a monumental leap towards enhancing the digital infrastructure of our state. It promises to revolutionize the way our schools — from urban to rural areas —access and utilize the internet. This is more than an infrastructure development; it's a commitment to ensuring that every student and educator in Kansas has the tools for success in an increasingly interconnected world. By significantly lowering the cost of internet access and improving its quality, we are setting the stage for our young learners to thrive in the digital age, preparing them for the challenges of tomorrow.”

Dickson's vision for a digitally empowered Kansas resonates with industry leaders like Gary DePreta, vice president of U.S. State, Local Governments and Education at Cisco.

“In today’s hyperconnected world, turning great ideas into new products and services that improve people’s lives and drive economic development requires resilient and cost-effective networks. Cisco looks forward to deepening our existing partnership with Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus leveraging our industrial Internet of Things portfolio and skills training programs to enable students, partners, and communities in Wichita and across Kansas to make the most of the opportunities that the new IXP will bring,” he said. “WSU’s Innovation Campus and the new IXP will further drive network resilience and performance, unlocking innovation and economic opportunity.”

Next steps

Subject to KBOR approvals, construction is expected to begin in early 2024 and will take approximately 18 months. iM Data Centers of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will act as general contractor on the project and will utilize local labor for site preparation work. DE-CIX, the world’s premier Internet Exchange ecosystem, will serve as the IX platform operator within the facility.

The modular facility, which will be hardened to withstand 200 mph winds, will have redundant electrical and mechanical systems so that it can remain fully operational even during extended power outages. The building and land development will be designed to complement the campus and surrounding neighborhood. The facility will also be capable of expanding on a modular basis with zero down-time as network operator needs grow in the coming years.

“Additionally, the synergies with everything happening on the Innovation Campus are nearly limitless,” said Hunter Newby, founder and CEO of Newby Ventures. “This collaboration will truly be a model for other universities around the country to follow — and once again, WSU is leading the pack.”

For more information about the project, or to pre-order space in the facility, interested parties may contact ixp@connectednation.org.

About Wichita State University

Wichita State University is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling more than 23,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of its students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

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About Connected Nation (CN)

Nonprofit Connected Nation’s mission is to improve lives by providing innovative solutions that expand access to, and the use of, broadband and related technologies for people everywhere. For more information, please visit: www.connectednation.org and follow CN on Facebook and Twitter.

About Newby Ventures

Newby Ventures, LLC is a personal holding company for interests held in a variety of carrier-neutral colocation and interconnection facilities.  Hunter Newby is its founder, chairman, and CEO.  Mr. Newby has over 20 years of ownership and management experience in the network interconnection industry. He is both an active and former owner, co-founder, partner or board member in numerous carrier-neutral colocation and interconnection businesses including: ColoATL, DataVerge, Fibre Centre, Netrality Properties, NJFX and The Telx Group, Inc. For more information, please visit www.newby-ventures.com and follow Mr. Newby on LinkedIn.

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