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Net@EDU: A Tradition of Leadership in Higher Education Networking

View past resources, primarily Net@EDU Annual Meeting presentations, provided by Net@EDU members.

Net@EDU was created in July 1998 with the merger of the Networking and Telecommunications Task Force (NTTF), overseen by EDUCAUSE's precursor Educom, and the Federation of American Research Networks (FARNET). For twelve years, Net@EDU provided a forum for higher education IT leaders from the top research universities to collaborate on a wide range of technical and policy issues impacting the future of networking designed to support education and cutting-edge research.

As the importance of networking to the mission of higher education evolved, so did Net@EDU's reputation as the go-to organization for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and industry to tap into higher education's thought leadership on information technology. Beginning with its hosting of an NSF workshop, "Institutional Opportunities for Advanced Networking," over time Net@EDU (on behalf of its parent association EDUCAUSE), received federal grants to lead higher education efforts on a wide range of issues, including creating a cohesive campus cyberinfrastructure, promoting cybersecurity, developing middleware (particularly identity management), and measuring the broadband penetration rates on campus.

As EDUCAUSE's presence and reputation grew in federal policy circles, its government relations team often solicited Net@EDU members for their technical insights when crafting background briefs, letters, and public comments to Congress and federal agencies. For instance, Net@EDU members' contribution to EDUCAUSE's arguments for exempting campus networks from the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) saved the community millions of dollars, while forging a more transparent relationship with federal law enforcement agencies. This relationship was fortified by Net@EDU's creation of the EDUCAUSE Network Policy Council (NPC). Comprised primarily of Net@EDU members, the NPC regularly consulted with EDUCAUSE staff to enhance communication on policy matters and ensure that EDUCAUSE policy advocacy efforts aligned with the reality of campus networking.

Net@EDU was designed and managed as a member-driven program. This emphasis was put into practice by the members through working groups, which drilled down on a particular area of concern for the higher education networking community (for example, converged communications, campus wireless networks, identity management, campus cyberinfrastructure, broadband network pricing, national broadband policy). Working groups were formed, retired, or folded into broader EDUCAUSE initiatives, depending on the changing R&E networking environment or community interest in a particular topic.

Net@EDU members primarily valued the personal networking component of the organization. Networking thought leaders from the community gathered for the Net@EDU Annual Meeting and at side meetings throughout the year, which gave members the opportunity to learn and strategize with colleagues as well as exchange ideas with and influence key government and industry leaders.

The original Net@EDU Campus Cyberinfrastructure and Converged Communications working groups were integrated into the EDUCAUSE Advanced Core Technologies Initiative (ACTI) as the Campus Cyberinfrastructure (ACTI-CCI) and Communications, Collaboration, and Mobility (ACTI-CCM) working groups in 2010. Read more about the evolution of Net@EDU into the Advanced Core Technologies Initiative (ACTI).

In 2013, ACTI was dissolved and the working groups were moved under the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research as the ECAR Working Groups.