ALBANY, N.Y., Sept. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — FirstLight, a leading provider of fiber-optic data, Internet, data center, cloud, and voice services to enterprise and carrier customers throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, announced today that Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18 (LIU 18) and Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit 19 (NEIU 19), which together make up the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Wide Area Network, has selected FirstLight for its Internet, Ethernet transport, and DDoS mitigation solutions.
FirstLight won a competitive bid to provide NEPA’s Regional Wide Area Network (RWAN), which connects 27 school districts across northeastern Pennsylvania and serves as a gateway for students and teachers to interact, access the Internet, deliver assignments, and conduct research. Various providers currently serve the disparate schools, but the RWAN consolidates many of the connectivity challenges the schools had historically faced. FirstLight will provide its fiber connectivity to each school in the district. Multiple 10 Gbps Ethernet connections will allow various locations to connect to the network via a hub in Archbald, PA.
Created by the Pennsylvania Legislature, Intermediate Units provide cost-effective instructional and operational services to school districts, charter schools, and private schools within geographic regions of Pennsylvania. Created to replace the County Office of Superintendent, there are 29 Intermediate Units operating in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“What we struggle with is interconnection to our network among our various school locations,” said Ty Yost, Assistant to the Executive Director for District Services of LIU 18 who also served as the contract officer. “With FirstLight, providing 10 Gbps and beyond to a school is no problem for them. We were working with other providers who were requiring multiple interconnects, high prices, and roadblocks. That wasn’t the case with FirstLight. FirstLight has built a network made for the future.”
“I definitely can tell you that everything could not have gone better with the implementation,” added Yost. “The timeline was well planned, and work that could be done early was done, and there was no mad rush toward the end of the timeline. FirstLight had the right people in the right places at the right time.”
“We’re delighted that Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18 selected FirstLight to connect their 17 locations to our network,” said Doug Derstine, Chief Operating Officer for FirstLight. “We take connectivity to schools very seriously, as Internet is perhaps the most important conduit for learning that exists today. When a school selects our network and services, in a sense, they entrust us with the education of their students and the safe accessibility of research and knowledge. That’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly.”
FirstLight has made a number of recent investments and gained market share in Pennsylvania. Last year, FirstLight announced that it had expanded its network to serve Eastern Pennsylvania and then announced that it had plans to acquire the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research (KINBER) network, which will expand its presence across Pennsylvania. Future expansion is also planned for Reading, Harrisburg, and Wilkes-Barre.