WiscNet and Net Neutrality

Today is an interesting day in our Internet world. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to roll back provisions that prevent Internet Service Providers from blocking or slowing particular parts of the Internet in favor of others. This is the concept known as "net neutrality."

We've received questions from WiscNet members about what all this means for WiscNet. In order to understand where we are at today, it helps to revisit the WiscNet of the late 1980s. WiscNet, together with others in what's called the "research and education" community, built an Internet in which the principle of a free and open network was paramount. Without it, we could not have created a network community of equals, across different disciplines, among the private and public sector, worldwide.

Today’s vote by the FCC goes against this fundamental principle and will change how networking works. WiscNet’s primary focus is to make sure that we, together with the research and education community, participate in a global Internet with unrestricted capacity for all innovators. WiscNet has always been, and remains committed to, supporting the missions of our member organizations. We will continue working to support the efforts of the research and education networking community to ensure that open access delivery models remain available to all. Essential to our members are the concept of transparency and control. As nonprofits, research and education networks, including WiscNet, are governed and managed by boards, advisories, and engineers who take great pride in setting policies that determine how services are delivered. We do not censor, we do not throttle, we do not sell our members' traffic data, and we do not block or discriminate against any legal applications or content traversing our network. Pretty simple strategies in a world of networking that is increasingly complex.

WiscNet is committed to making this Internet available to all users. We use a number of strategies to ensure the Internet performs well for our members and does not limit access to services and content they desire. We make direct "peering" connections with content providers where large amounts of traffic are exchanged. Additionally, content distribution networks operated by Akamai, Netflix, and many, many others are hosted directly on WiscNet to improve performance and access. It is this comprehensive, cost-conscious approach to maintaining great networking performance, reliability, and access that makes research and education networks, including WiscNet, unique.

"What can we as WiscNet members do?" Take time to thoroughly digest what I laid out above. Despite this being my job, even I'm still learning. I’m learning from our network engineers who are fired up today. I'm learning from our colleagues lobbying those at the federal level about why research and education networking is crucial. I'm learning from those that sat around the table nearly 30 years ago and determined that the free and open inter-connection of networks would be hugely important someday.

What have I learned? No matter how much you know about something like net neutrality, the Internet, or even WiscNet, there is an extra dimension of why that cannot be be boiled down and explained in simple bullet points. It’s wildly complicated and it’s why we are in this together as a community. We’ll continue to both teach and learn with the WiscNet community about why a free and open Internet is important to us.

John Pederson
Director of Marketing and Communications
WiscNet - Wisconsin’s Research and Education Network
Connecting People and Strategies

Introducing WiscNet's Custom Private Network Service

We’ve been working with a few of our K12 members on something so new and exciting that we thought, “Why not pick the worst possible time of the year for an announcement?”

A few months ago, a handful of WiscNet member organizations came to us with an important request: “We’d like to prioritize a certain segment of our Internet traffic for distance learning video.” We worked with these folks to craft a service that does that. As we continued to develop this with this small group, we quickly realized that others will have similar or even new needs for applications and ideas we haven’t even thought of yet. (Things always get interesting at WiscNet.)

We’re excited to announce our new WiscNet Custom Private Network service today.

WiscNet's Custom Private Network Service reserves a portion of your bandwidth -- an amount you specify, up to 25% -- that enables you to connect directly with an endpoint of your choice. Maybe this allows you to increase your class options, send information over a private network from one point to another, deliver a continuously reliable service to the people you serve, ensure disaster recovery backups between you and another member, or keep going with the magic you're already got. WiscNet's Custom Private Network Service can help you plan for the future, and then bring you there. 

We believe this service has a variety of applications for all of our member segments. It isn't limited -- nor should it be -- to the K12 world. We encourage you to think big and come talk to us. This service was born from a group of WiscNet members who came to us with a need and a desire to work together to figure out how to fill it -- the perfect example of WiscNet working with our members, rather than simply for

We'd love to tell you more and answer any questions. If you'd like further information, contact us at support@wiscnet.net or 608-442-6761, extension #2.

WiscNet Advisories to the Membership for 2017-18

Last year our Advisories to the Membership were a resounding success.

Our goal was to take people from the WiscNet community who were passionate about a variety of topics and have them learn with others who had the same interests, ideas, and questions, and we not only met that goal but exceeded even our own high expectations. We want to keep that momentum going for 2017-18.

We've heard over and over that these conversations helped you discover tools and strategies for your work. We've also heard that the knowledge, skills, and experience you shared with one another at each meeting and in group presentations sessions at WiscNet Connections enabled many others to learn from you as well. This is what a membership organization is all about: you strengthen the value of being a WiscNet member, and you strengthen each other.

Ch-ch-ch-changes: new groups, new meeting format

Based on some of the things we've learned, we're changing it up a bit moving forward. There's a tweak to one group, and the addition of a new one. The 2017-18 groups will focus on the following topics: 

  • Community Area Networks 
  • Advanced Networking
  • Security
  • Services
  • Next Generation Leadership 

We heard some of your challenges, so we've now arranged it so that all groups will meet on the same day, in the same location. We're extending things a bit in order to maximize your time connecting and learning from one another: we'll host a Networking Social the evening before each day-long meeting, but there will only be two meetings prior to WiscNet Connections next May. 

Again, we're asking for your commitment: both dates, both locations. Continuity is important, and our group leaders found that the folks who missed a meeting last year didn't get quite as much out of it as the people who were able to make it to all of them. You're giving this your time, energy, funds, and people power -- that's a real investment and we want you to get the biggest possible return.

Choose an Advisory group and sign up!

So how does this work? 

1. Choose one Advisory group in which to participate this year.
2. RSVP for each meeting date (see below) by reserving a ticket for your chosen group, as well as one for the Networking Social the evening before the meeting.

Friday, October 6, 2017 
Madison Marriott West in Madison
RSVP here by September 29

Thursday, January 18 
St. Norbert College in De Pere
RSVP here by January 11

As always, your input and involvement in this organization makes everything better -- us included. We're thrilled to embark on the second year of Advisories to the Membership and hope you'll join in. It's when we get together, in the same room, connecting with each other, that the good stuff happens. 

Questions? Contact Sarah Miller at sarahmiller@wiscnet.net.

Building Smart(er) Communities



Building Smart(er) Communities:

A Holistic Approach to Connecting People and Strategies Now and For the Future

Mark your calendar and give a “shout out” to your local leaders—city and county officials, school district administrators, board members, legislators, hospital administrators, etc.—to do the sameWiscNet is hosting a fall forum to learn how community anchor institutions (schools, libraries, cities, counties, libraries, health care, and non-profit agencies) can use the framework of a Community Area Network (CAN) to build a consortium that focuses on the social, economic, and technological values of their constituents.

Smart(er) communities, rural and urban, collaborate and use collective resources to create a place for people of all ages to live, work, and thrive in 21st-century environments that require robust data and broadband connections. We'll focus on topics such as:

  • “Smart” communities
  • Collaborative Leadership
  • Growing rural/urban economies
  • Making the most of limited budgets
  • Accelerating the implementation of new digital solutions

Listen, learn and share during this one-day event to connect agency and statewide leaders and make a difference in your community today and in the future. 

October 12, 2017
9:00-3:30 p.m.
Sentry World, Stevens Point, WI

We are also hosting a pre-event social hour at Mikey’s Bar & Grill in Plover, Wisconsin so you can grow your people network as well.

More details and invitations information forthcoming.

Community Conversations: Last-Mile Wireless Solutions

Join us for our next round of Community Conversations 

This fall we'll be on the road again at various locations around the state, connecting people and strategies, and facilitating conversation -- this time about last-mile wireless solutions for K-12 school districts, higher education, libraries, counties and municipalities, and hospitals and healthcare.

Join fellow WiscNet members in your area to hear from some smart folks -- including hand-picked vendors with trusted expertise in these technologies -- and discuss challenges, explore options, and learn more about potential ideas and solutions that might serve your needs.

Please join us for the following dates and locations (follow the links to RSVP):

Thursday, September 21 in Sheboygan (Mead Public Library) 

Monday, October 9 in La Crosse (School District of La Crosse) 

Wednesday, November 29 in Rhinelander (Rhinelander District Library) 

Tuesday, December 12 in Platteville (Platteville Public Library) 

Enjoy these very last days of summer, and we'll see you soon!

Introducing Securly

WiscNet's new Digital Student Safety Service by Securly 

WiscNet isn't going to convince you that your school district should care about bullying or suicide prevention. But if you do care about bullying or suicide prevention, we have the perfect new service for you.

When Securly approached us about what they can do for K-12 schools and families, we were impressed. Sure, they offer a complete cloud-based web filtering service that greatly reduces the technical complications of web filtering in 1:1 and take-home environments. (That's great -- don't get us wrong.) But the game-changer is their solution to the problems of bullying and self-harm.

Using natural language process algorithms, Securly flags students' social media and e-mail activity when there are indications someone is being bullied or at risk for suicide and alerts school administrators as well as parents so that everyone can work together quickly and effectively, in equal partnership, to keep students safe.

We were also excited by Securly's Parent Portal, a feature that allows parents the ability to monitor their child’s online activity on school-owned devices, and be engaged in the safety and productivity of their children. In line with this, Securly stands alone in offering a Student Safety team of former K-12 educators that come alongside districts to help you better understand and implement the additional features focused on Digital Citizenship. (Read: Worried about how parents will react to this? Have other major concerns? There's someone who has been in your shoes and speaks your unique language to walk you through this every step of the way.) 

When Securly shared some of their success stories with us -- when we learned about the lives that have been saved -- we knew we wanted to offer this service to the WiscNet membership. 

We'd love to show you around behind the scenes. On the following dates, we'll be hosting a webinar featuring some fellow WiscNet members who are also using Securly, along with two of Securly's Student Safety Coordinators, both former principals, who will provide an overview of Securly's Student Safety Tools.  

Tuesday, August 29 at 2pm

Tuesday, September 19 at 2pm

Tuesday, October 24 at 2pm

Register here for any of those dates. 

We believe Securly is truly changing what it means to keep kids safe online, inside as well as outside the classroom. There's much more this Digital Student Safety Service than what fits into a post, so if you'd like more information, contact us at support@wiscnet.net or 608-442-6761, extension #2.

WiscNet Wire for January 2017

📆 WiscNet, BadgerNet, E-Rate Update

We are still waiting on AT&T’s response to proposals discussed in our last round of negotiations. 

We are talking with our K12 and library members daily about what all this means with regards to filing for E-Rate. As of today (2/1/2017) there isn’t a filing deadline set by USAC. We typically estimate mid-February to be the deadline. I honestly have no idea or insight into what to expect at this point.

Here’s what WiscNet and our friends at the Department of Public Instruction recommend…

File an E-Rate Form 470 for transport.
File a second E-Rate Form 470 for transit (aka internet access).
File a third E-Rate Form 470 for combined transport and transit.

Cover your bases. If you like what “WiscNet on BadgerNet” looks like when this all sorts out, take it. If things go awry, you have backup options. Bonus: You may find others willing to provide better services at lesser rates. While it requires a little extra work and attention on your end, it’s a way to lessen the anxiety many are feeling about hitting E-Rate timelines.

More information available in my January 18, 2017 update.

🎪 WiscNet Connections

WiscNet Connections — formerly the WiscNet Future Technologies Conference — is fast approaching. May 8th and 9th, 2017. Registration is open. We will be reaching out in the next few weeks with keynote and session details. 

We’ll be adding two new twists in 2017. First, we have 75+ folks that have served as “advisors to the WiscNet membership” throughout 2016-17 that will be giving back to the rest of the attendees at WiscNet Connections on the topics of Community Area Networks, advanced networking, security, and cloud services.

In another cool twist, we are working to bring 100 “next generation” leaders under the WiscNet tent at WiscNet Connections. While we cherish those that have every t-shirt spanning the past 10 years, we’re interested in who you see as interesting, up-and-coming leaders across the WiscNet community. More details soon…get ready.

🗝 WiscNet Community Conversations: WiscNet Tools

Last fall WiscNet staff toured Wisconsin, connecting people and strategies, talking a little bit about security, tools, and strategies with our members. Come February and March we’ll hit the road yet again to bring you a primer on the various WiscNet Tools available to members. Tips, tricks, and tools, and conversation with real, live WiscNet network engineers. Bandwidth graphs? Yep. Speed testing? We’ll teach you some things you don’t know. Recognizing and stopping DDOS attacks? These folks are pretty smart.

Registration is free for these events if your organization is a member of WiscNet. If your organization is not a WiscNet member, it’s time.

Fennimore, WI - Southwest Technical College
March 1, 2017, 9:30am - 11:30am

Spooner, WI - Spooner High School
March 2, 2017, 9:30am - 11:30am

👩‍⚕️ Wisconsin CTO Clinic: Collaborative Leadership in the Digital Age

Wisconsin Educational Technology Leaders (WETL) is sponsoring a clinic on Sunday, February 26, 2017 focused on collaborative leadership in the digital age. This event is focused on Chief Technology Officers interested in taking on leadership roles in their school districts. Registration for this event is free and open to everybody. It also fits nicely with the Brainstorm K20 schedule. Kalahari Resort and Convention Center, Tamboti Room Suites 7 and 8.

⚡️ Brainstorm K20

We’re always happy to put in a plug for the Brainstorm Educational Technology Conference. This year’s event is February 26-28, 2017 in good old Wisconsin Dells. A handful of familiar WiscNet voices — as well as a few new — will be in attendance and sessions throughout the conference. If you really like the “tech” of educational technology and haven’t checked this conference out, we highly recommend a visit. It’s a great mix of face-to-face conversations, informative sessions, and has great attendance among vendors of all types. https://www.brainstormk20.com

📆 WiscNet Anniversaries for the Month of January 

WiscNet serves more than 500 member organizations. We can't list them all, so each month we recognize those that joined WiscNet in that month. Someday, we'll send presents. Today, you get your name on a list. Thank you to the organizations and their member representatives for your continued dedication to the WiscNet community.

City of Madison - John Schwoerer - 22
Reedsburg School District - Steve Tock - 21
Saint Croix Falls School District - Brian Kray - 21
Stevens Point Area Public School District - Brian Casey - 21
Marshfield Unified School District - Mike Drevlow - 20
Benton School District - Steve Schuaff - 19
Black Hawk School District - William Chambers - 19
Cuba City School District - Christophe Vrielinck - 19
Mineral Point Unified School District - Luke Francois - 19
Southwestern Wisconsin School District - John Costello - 19
Howards Grove School District - David Richart - 17
Albany School District - Suzi Gould - 17
Solon Springs School District - Dave Zosel - 16
Fontana J8 School District - Allen Damrow - 16
Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology - Sally Smits - 16
Mequon-Thiensville School District - Raymond Pitzka - 15
Kohler School District - Paula Anderson - 4

WiscNet, BadgerNet, E-Rate

Schools and libraries, welcome to the 2017 E-Rate season. We are getting a number of questions as the (yet-to-be-determined) deadline for posting Form 470’s approaches. See also, “What’s the story on the new BadgerNet?” Here’s what we know and recommend.

In the past, many of you authorized TEACH to file your Form 470 for E-Rate for 100 Mbps of BadgerNet “transport” for $250/month. Meanwhile, you filed separately for E-Rate for internet access (“transit”) and chose WiscNet as an Internet Service Provider
As of today, January 18, 2017, the next BadgerNet contract has no alternative Internet Service Provider options; AT&T is it. There is no WiscNet option on the next BadgerNet. Yet.
We (WiscNet, DPI, TEACH) have mentioned a few times that negotiations between WiscNet and AT&T continue. We are working diligently and carefully. I’ll even go as far as saying things are going well. We just aren't there yet.

We know folks are anxious about filing E-Rate. We hear you.

USAC hasn’t announced the last date to post a Form 470. We use February 15, 2017 as our rule of thumb, but this date often shifts.

You may have already filed a Form 470, in which case you are waiting, patiently, for a reply from WiscNet.
Here’s what WiscNet recommends…

  • File an E-Rate Form 470 for transport.
  • File a second E-Rate Form 470 for transit (aka internet access).
  • File a third E-Rate Form 470 for combined transport and transit.

Cover your bases. If you like what “WiscNet on BadgerNet” looks like when this all sorts out, take it. If things go awry, you have backup options. Bonus: You may find others willing to provide better services at lesser rates. While it requires a little extra work and attention on your end, it’s a way to lessen the anxiety many are feeling about hitting E-Rate timelines.
For those who have already filed Form 470’s, patience. We have held off responding until we know more about what this “WiscNet on BadgerNet” option looks like. While we regret the delay, you deserve our best efforts to keep all sustainable, cost-effective, and E-Rate-able options open.
As always, look to Bill Herman (K-12 Schools and CESAs) and Ryan Claringbole (Public Libraries) http://dpi.wi.gov/erate/contacts as experts and for E-Rate guidance from the DPI here in Wisconsin. Bill and Ryan dream about E-Rate so that you and I don’t have to.
We'll continue negotiating with AT&T to keep "WiscNet on BadgerNet" a sustainable, cost-effective, and E-Rate-able solution. Thanks everybody for paying attention, sending in your questions, and for the nice messages of support. We'll be in touch soon.

WiscNet Wire for December 2016

Update Re: BadgerNet

The 2017 E-Rate season is approaching for schools and libraries. Last week the Department of Public Instruction hosted a great session with information for the next funding cycle. The big question, “What are the E-Rate implications for schools and libraries interested in using WiscNet under the new BadgerNet contract?” Particularly, “Do we have a choice of Internet service providers in the new BadgerNet?”

As things stand today, AT&T is the only option on the new BadgerNet contract. WiscNet and AT&T have been in discussions over the last few weeks on ways we can continue offering WiscNet services in this new BadgerNet contract. Rest assured, together we are working hard to figure this out in the best interest of schools and libraries throughout Wisconsin. Our talks have been extremely positive as we work together to develop a solution. We will be meeting again right after the new year. Stay tuned.

Things That Have My Attention

This short interlude between holidays is useless for starting and sustaining complicated collaborative work. Instead, I’m focusing my attention on myself. What can I do/learn that will jumpstart 2017? I thought I’d share a few things grabbing my attenion.

Joi Ito: Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future
I had the pleasure of participating in one of Joi’s experiments. In 2006 we created a World of Warcraft raiding guild to better understand leadership and team dynamics in online communities. It was an experience and relationship I’ll cherish the rest of my life. Today, Joi is the head of the MIT Media Lab and on the board of the New York Times. Whatever has Joi’s attention always has mine. “Compasses over maps” has me questioning annual goals/resolutions (maps) and instead thinking, “How would this be better expressed as a compass?”

David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried: Rework
I’m curious how people work. I recently crossed David Heinemeier Hansson via The Tim Ferriss Podcast. David is a world renowned race car driver that learned to drive via video games. He didn’t get a driver’s license until he was 25. He also created Ruby on Rails, a popular coding language, and is a co-founder of Basecamp. David and his business partner Jason wrote a book Rework that’s worth the time. At Basecamp, teamwork is structured around 6 week cycles with 2 week interludes. Regular start and finish lines with a reset in-between. Interesting.

Michael Lopp aka Rands: Five Leadership Hacks
Michael Lopp has many years experience in leadership at Apple, Pinterest, and now at Slack. He has simple advice., “I come up with three questions headed into every meeting. If I don’t have any questions, it is time to ask why the meeting in the first place.” Take a moment to reflect and reset your expectations around meetings. Is this regularly scheduled meeting still valuable? Have we included the right people? Is there anybody in this meeting that no longer needs to be? Is this a 15 minute meeting that dragging to 60 minutes because that’s what it says on the calendar?

WiscNet Member Recognition

Most people I know simply focus on doing way above average work and assume (hope) that an average amount of attention on our political system will suffice. This month, Community Area Networks in Eau Claire, La Crosse, and Platteville are hosting events for state and local politicians about efforts happening in their own communities. Recognizing individuals will result in me overlooking others. If you are/were an organizer or participant in any of these events, thank you. Your work is appreciated by all of us in the WiscNet community.

December WiscNet Anniversaries

WiscNet serves more than 500 member organizations. We can't list them all, so each month we recognize those that joined WiscNet in that month. Someday, we'll send presents. Today, you get your name on a list. Thank you to the organizations and their member representatives for your continued dedication to the WiscNet community.

20+ Years as WiscNet Members
Markesan School District, Jerry Chisnell, 20
Northcentral Technical College, Chet Strebe, 22

10+ Years as WiscNet Members
Phillips School District, Trevor Raskie, 14
Northwood School District, Audrey Visger, 15
Messmer Catholic, Laurence Mala, 16
New Glarus School District, Michael Weasner, 16
Dodgeland School District, Brad Modaff, 17
Rosholt School District, Enrique Ramos, 18
Dodgeville School District, Matthew Butteris, 18
Rib Lake School District, Gayle Perrin, 18
Abbotsford School District, Jesse Meddaugh, 18
Colby School District, Jesse Meddaugh, 18
Gilman School District, Georgia Kraus, 18
Medford Area Public School District, Dennis Hinderliter, 18
Owen-Withee School District, Bob Houts, 18
Lodi School District, Paul Anderson, 18
Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, Heikki Heikkinen, 18
Monona Grove School District, Jeff DeWolfe, 18
Waunakee Community School District, Herb Haubrich, 18
City of Superior, Dan Shea, 19

0+ Years as WiscNet Members
Jefferson County, Roland Welsch, 5
Iowa State University, Steve Schallehn, 8

Projects Happening Over the Holidays?

Our support heroes here at WiscNet World Headquarters are playing rock paper scissors spock negotiating a vacation rotation between Christmas and New Years. We know you might be planning to use the quiet little stretch between holidays for a bit of network maintenance. We want to make sure we are properly staffed at all times over the holidays. If you have a project in mind that you know will need WiscNet Service Success help, please drop us an email at support@wiscnet.net letting us know which day to you plan on the project. The WiscNet Network Operations Center will run 24/7 throughout the holidays to deal with squirrels chewing through cables and other unforeseen events.