Videoconferencing Insight - 5 - Issue No.2001/06

Application Sory

The Adirondack Area Network (AANet) in north New York State is a wide area telecom network owned by the 100 member institutions


Adirondack Area Network (AANet) in the Columbia County region of north New York State is being used for a wide range of purposes, primarily educational and for telemedicine. We described its development in the early years of its five plus years existence in our issue of 15 September 1997.

AANet is based on the Albany campus of The Sage Colleges, where David Bonner and the other officers of AANet are on the faculty. Bonner is a professor of mathematics. AANet’s other principals are Frederick “Jackie’’ Ford, who serves as vice president of technology initiatives, and Kenneth Sperl, who is vice president of network technology.

Adirondack Area Network is a non-profit telecommunications provider. AA net now offers a very extensive array of telecom products throughout Columbia County, including T1 lines, virtual private networks (for tying branch offices together, for example), Internet access, voice over IP (providing the ability to carry some voice calls on a data line for redundancy and to reduce costs), and video conferencing.

A $1.38 million grant from Bell Atlantic in 1995 and matching funds from participating institutions and some foundations allowed for the development of a prototype network. A network with 45 member institutions was up and running in 1997.

The network now funded through memberships, institutional support and grants has expanded to four telephone area codes stretching from the mid Hudson Valley to the Canadian border and Central New York and the Southern Tier.

The non-profit Adirondack Area Network now serves about 100 healthcare facilities, school districts, and government offices. Small businesses can now use the facilities and are doing so.

Bonner told us new telecommunications services and rate structures are making use of the network more efficient. Hospitals and other facilities can use the same access lines for telemedicine, longdistance continuing education, Internet service and longdistance phone calls. And hourly rates are replaced flat monthly rates of $2,000, allowing the facilities to stay online continually.

How It All Started

Adirondack Area Network was born of a partnership among Sage Junior College, where Bonner is director of Sage Technology Initiatives. The concept developed out of Bonner’s work in creating campus communication networks. He realized that he could transfer that success to a much larger network connecting various institutions throughout a vast geographic area. “A bunch of technology wizards can get together and do anything, but [what makes this important] is appropriate usage and community benefit,” said Bonner, president and CEO of the network.

This community benefit has been recognised by the U.S. Department of Commerce which selected AANet as an example for other States to follow when community networks were discussed in 1998.

AANet provides Telemedicine for rural areas

“It is really a boon to the outlying rural areas,’’ said Natalie Slohm, director of public relations at Mary McClellan Hospital. Two years ago, the small Washington County hospital received a grant of nearly $250,000 to buy equipment needed to offer telemedicine and distance learning delivered over AANet. The money came as part of a Clinton administration initiative to improve medical care in rural areas. Now, its telemedicine system is up and running.

Next Page