About LEARN: Network Infrastructure

Texas map - click to enlarge

LEARN's fiber network spans over 3,200 miles across the state, connecting its 554 direct or affiliated customers east to west from Beaumont to El Paso and north to south from Amarillo to Brownsville. LEARN is built on dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) optical technology, providing the capability to transport multiple high capacity signals over a shared optical fiber by using the different color wavelengths of laser light. DWDM is state-of-the-art technology that is very scalable and permits LEARN to leverage its initial investment in optical fiber by adding additional capacity at marginal costs.

LEARN's network relies on agreements with the private sector that provide the long term use of optical dark fibers and/or long term leases of optical wavelength capacity. When dark fiber is conveyed via an indefeasible right to use (IRU) agreement, LEARN provides the infrastructure to "light" the fiber and can add additional capacity as needed without having to revise a contract with the fiber owner. In wavelength capacity agreements, the service provider provides the infrastructure and bandwidth under the terms and conditions of the agreement.

Deploying LEARN-owned high-performance routers at its 20 strategically-located Points of Presence (POPs), LEARN makes it possible for its members and affiliates to bridge the last mile with their own network connections at minimal costs. In most cases LEARN's network segments are protected through rings that insure continued operation of the network in case of a fiber cut or other disruption to a segment.

Several university systems as well as the Texas Education Telecommunications Network (TETN) operate their own networks which in turn are linked into LEARN's statewide fiber infrastructure at LEARN's POPs. LEARN cooperates closely with those other organizations to ensure that high-performance networking is made available at the lowest cost, best reliability, and highest performance possible.

Membership & Network Services

Members are entitled to appoint an individual to the Board of Directors and to acquire network services from LEARN at member rates. Network services are designed and provisioned based on the needs of individual members through collaboration between those members and the LEARN staff. Network services, which are funded by the members who consume the services at rates which are set by the Board, sustain current and future network requirements including capital refresh at periodic intervals to keep the network state-of-the-art. Network services include:

  • Layer 1 Transport Services Between LEARN Points-of-Presence (POPs),
  • Switched Layer 2 MPLS Services,
  • Routed Layer 3 Services,
  • Connection Gateways to the National Research and Education Network (Internet2 and Energy Sciences Network),
  • Colocation Services at LEARN POPs,
  • Commodity Internet Services (70G burst capacity spread across 4 POPs), and
  • Peering and Caching Services.

LEARN has applied for and received a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) with the Universal Service Administration Company. Acquiring a SPIN number permits LEARN's school, library, and rural health customers to receive significant discounts through the Universal Services Fund.

The Board and the staff are committed to ensuring LEARN remains the trusted and preferred means by which its members obtain network services in Texas. There is a broad consensus among LEARN's members that the organization has a unique role to play in the state in providing highly reliable, cost effective network services to the higher education, K-12, and not-for-profit communities. LEARN is a trusted partner and convener in these communities.