Northern Tier Network ND

North Dakota State University and University of North Dakota

2019 Northern Tier Network - North Dakota Annual Report

This report provides an update for fiscal year 2019 on the operations and maintenance of NTN-ND, a state-level segment of the larger Northern Tier Network Consortium and part of the national research and education (R&E) network com¬munity. Contents of this report include a description of the functions of the network and its service to the research and education activities in North Dakota, along with its role in the larger regional, national and global R&E network community. The FY19 financial report and NTN-ND collaborators are also included. The document is appended with a running log of NTN-ND history, funding, and oversight activities by the North Dakota Legislature, Information Technology Department and the University System.

The NTN-ND partnership consists of North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota. On behalf of this partnership, NDSU continues to serve as the fiscal agent and supervises operations and maintenance activities. The two Universities continue to sponsor Internet2 participation for the other nine public institutions, the five Tribal Colleges and public K-12 schools in North Dakota.

This report is intended to inform NTN-ND stakeholders across North Dakota, especially those beneficiaries of the exemplary resources that connection to this global community provides. These include students, faculty and staff located at higher education institutions and Tribal Colleges, and the K-12 community.

About Northern Tier Network - North Dakota

NTN-ND History

Northern Tier Network – North Dakota (NTN-ND) is North Dakota’s state-owned segment dedicated for use of research and academic activities only. NTN-ND plays a key role in the partnerships, collaborative planning and implementation of the regional NTNC, demonstrating the commitment to support our member institutions as they engage in current and emerging trends for research and academics.

This state connection to the national and global R&E network community depends upon North Dakota’s state government and education network (STAGEnet) to connect public higher education institutions, Tribal Colleges, and public K-12 schools. NTN-ND is an example of a state network segment contributing to the 43 regional R&E networks that are the foundation of Internet2. While Internet2 serves as the national R&E network backbone, it could not function without the operations and innovations realized across the collective local R&E community.

True to its original vision, NTN-ND has positioned itself to serve as an upper Midwest crossroads for R&E traffic, leveraging the capacity enabled through partnerships with neighboring states and regional networks.

From its inception in 2008 until 2017, NTN-ND enjoyed the engaged support of three state-level partners: the North Dakota Information Technology Department (ITD), North Dakota State University (NDSU) and the University of North Dakota (UND). Collectively, the partners have been responsible for oversight and visioning the future direction of this valuable resource. With the changes in funding instituted by the North Dakota University System following the 2017 Legislative Assembly, the partnership now consists of North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota. On behalf of this partnership, NDSU continues to serve as the fiscal agent and supervises operations and maintenance activities. The two Universities continue to sponsor Internet2 participation for the other nine public institutions, the five Tribal Colleges and public K-12 schools in North Dakota.

The Northern Tier Network Consortium (NTNC) serves as a primary regional technology network in our region, partnering with other networks and network providers to interconnect with each other and the national backbone of Internet2. The NTNC benefits from the continued growth and expansion of its members. A shared ideology across the membership aligns to the philosophy that what helps one, helps all. State, institutional and research entity memberships cover a 13-state region from Michigan to Alaska (Figure 1) and includes public, private and Tribal Colleges and Universities, public and private K-12 school districts, research laboratories, libraries, municipalities, hospitals, and state networks across the NTNC footprint. Individual segments are owned and operated independently, abiding by their own state-specific laws and infrastructure requirements. Interconnections among neighboring networks serve to form the larger regional footprint.

Global R&E Network Community


Across the country, regional technology networks serve as arms of the national R&E technology network interoperating to form a larger whole, the U.S. national R&E network and backbone, Internet2.

As a member owned organization whose mission is to operate an advanced technology network intended for research and academic activities of its membership, Internet2 operates the national R&E network backbone.  Internet2 operates the nation’s largest and fastest, coast-to-coast research and education network that was built to deliver advanced, customized services that are accessed and secured by the community-developed trust and identity framework, with Internet2 Network Operations Center powered by Indiana University. Internet2 serves 317 U.S. universities, 60 government agencies, 43 regional and state education networks and through them supports more than 100,000 community anchor institutions, over 1,000 InCommon participants, and 59 leading corporations working with our community, and 70 national research and education network partners that represent more than 100 countries. The technology that creates regional networks and the larger interoperable network fabric encircling the globe is the foundation for distributed education and research activities across the higher education community.

Paving the way for innovations for our higher education communities…
Internet2’s trust and identity infrastructure supports faculty and staff, researchers and scholars, and access to services across the U.S. and globally. With a primary goal intent on ensuring that members have access to the right services at the right time, with the right protections and privacy considerations, while supporting easy collaboration globally (*), Internet2 continues to pave the way for innovations for our higher education communities. InCommon and eduroam are two critical elements of the trust and identity fabric.


Research ready: Provides researchers, faculty, staff, and students with seamless access to academic collaboration and cloud services. InCommon is the U.S. gateway to the global research and education community. InCommon provides integrated service and software solutions to address these needs: single sign-on (SSO), access to cloud and local services, and seamless global collaboration for students, faculty, staff, and researchers. InCommon grew out of Internet2’s work in trusted access to resources, which has been underway since 1998. In 2016, InCommon assumed responsibility for eduroam in the U.S., which provides seamless roaming wi-fi access at participating organizations. NDSU joined the InCommon Federation in 2013.


eduroam is a global wireless network access service for research and education. An eligible organization (research organization or education-related organization) can provide users (students, researchers, staff and faculty) with wireless access at participating institutions through the use of their home institution credentials. Intended to support research and education, any U.S.-based research organization or education-related institution can join the InCommon eduroam roaming wireless service. This includes non-profit colleges and universities, museums, libraries, research labs, K-12 schools, and others. In North Dakota, North Dakota State University has been an eduroam connector since 2012, and the North Dakota University System has been a connector since 2015.

For North Dakota, access to and responsibility for the connection to this national and global resource is achieved through the NTNC partnership via the state-owned segment referred to as Northern Tier Network – North Dakota.

Strengthening the Regional "Community of Practice"

A comparison of the NTNC regional network footprint with the map indicating locations of accredited Tribal Colleges and Universities shows the significant geographical overlap between the two. Because the NTNC member states are home to approximately 75% of the accredited TCUs in the United States, it is important to include TCUs as key representatives of higher education in our rural and remote areas of the country. Prompted by efforts to further support and strengthen the capacity of the Tribal Colleges and Universities in their own roles as the land grant institutions for their communities, the Northern Tier Network Consortium worked with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) in 2018 extended an invitation to TCUs located within the NTNC footprint to attend the consortia’s annual conference and other consortia activities. The invitation is intended to provide an opportunity for NTNC members to be more intentional in including anchor institutions in towns and locations across the region in working toward common goals, understanding the synergy of similar challenges experienced across communities of land grant institutions to support local economic development, education and research. Engaging the TCUs in the NTNC serves to extend the ‘community of practice’ invitation to as many as possible, and for the benefit of all where success lies within continuous communication and human networking to move forward.

FY19 Financial Report

For FY19, the annual budget for NTN-ND included funds remaining from the previous fiscal year that were withheld from transfer to depreciation and capital refresh and replacement, and revenue acquired through reimbursements from the state of South Dakota and the Pacific Northwest GigaPop. Since completing the full build for its segment in 2009, NTN-ND has remained fiscally healthy. No money is used to fund staff of NTN-ND partners UND or NDSU.

The FY19 report reflects a starting balance of $429,169.94 with total expenditures of $479,992. Reimbursements totaling $66,083 were received from the state of South Dakota for their portion of annual network and NOC expenses. Reimbursements totaling $42,848 were received from the Pacific Northwest GigaPop for their portion of annual network, telecommunications and hardware expenses. Funds remaining on balance at the end of FY19 will be used to cover expenses going forward into FY20.

Annual expenses of NTN-ND are incurred across five categories: equipment, fiber, network operations center, Internet2 and NTNC dues, and other operating. Additional expenses for depreciation and capital refresh and replacement typically adjusted (transferred?) at the end of each fiscal year were not deducted in FY17 due to statewide budget cuts, and again in FY18 and FY19 due to termination of state and University System funding support. The remaining account funds have been used to fund expenses for FY19.

NTN-ND Annual Expenditures Occur in Five Main Categories:

Equipment: Cost related to equipment acquisition and maintenance fees.

Fiber: Operations and maintenance fees on fiber, and rack and power required to house equipment in space provided by the vendor.

Internet2/NTNC dues and participation fees: Annual Internet2 participation and connectivity fees, NTNC membership dues, sponsored participant fees and costs for Internet2 to accept and route traffic to and from NTN-ND. Internet2 membership dues and fees continue to change as the organizational structure for Internet2 and their member community evolves to address the needs of current research and academics.

Network Operations Center (NOC): Management of network equipment, including troubleshooting and response coordination for unplanned outages.

Other operations: Includes insurance, minor supplies, printing and shipping costs. Beginning in FY18, NTN-ND partners covered all of their own travel and per diem expenses relevant to R&E activities.

Notable Changes Since 2018

A much-anticipated amendment to the existing operating agreement between NTN-ND and the Pacific Northwest Gigapop was completed in April 2018 and has resulted in a significant decrease in annual NTN-ND operating expenses. The agreement ensures continuation of the existing and economical AT7T fiber lease for state segments of the NTNC between Washing and Minnesota through the end of the original 20-year lease agreement (2028). The amended agreement relieves NTN-ND of fiber lease expenses for a portion of the span. These cost savings include an 11.2% decrease in equipment; 60% decrease in fiber; and an 62% decrease in NOC. Combined total savings in these three areas of annual operations and maintenance for FY19 is more than $265,000. Annual expenses for Internet2 and other membership and participation fees, as well as other miscellaneous expenses remained constant for FY19. It is anticipated that the upcoming network upgrade planned for North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota will realize even more savings in annual operations and maintenance.  The improvements for NTN-ND will mark a transition in operational status of the network, moving from a business model of owned assets to a model where the majority of daily operations is achieved through procurement of services from other entities.

NTN-ND Partners

A variety of state, regional and national colleagues partner with NTN-ND to contribute to the collaborative environment where U.S. research and education organizations solve common technology challenges and develop innovative solutions in support of their educational, research and community service missions.

Broadband Optical Research, Education and Sciences Network (BOREAS)
Broadband Optical RBOREAS is a Regional Optical Network (RON) providing services to the advanced production and experimental network requirements of the research and education institutions in this region. BOREAS is a collaboration of four major research institutions in the upper Midwest: Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. BOREAS members are part of the NTNC.

The primary provider and operator of the nation’s research and education network.

North Dakota Information Technology Department / Statewide Technology Access for Government and Education Network (STAGEnet)
The statewide Wide Area Network provides gateway services to the public internet and to Internet2 for designated sites. STAGEnet is operated by the State Information Technology Department. ITD is a member of the NTNC.

North Dakota State University (NDSU)
Along with the University of North Dakota, has been an Internet2 member for North Dakota since 1996. Together NDSU and UND provide Internet2 sponsorship for the other nine NDUS institutions, the ND Tribal Colleges and the public K-12 schools. NDSU is a member of the NTNC. Together, NDSU and UND comprise the partnership of NTN-ND.

Northern Lights Gigapop, University of Minnesota
Connects NTN-ND to Internet2. The University of Minnesota is a member of the NTNC.

Pacific Northwest Gigapop (PNWGP)
Interconnect hub in Seattle, Wash., providing connections between the Northern Wave and other national and international R&E networks. PNWGP and the state of Washington are members of the NTNC

South Dakota High Speed Research, Education and Economic Development Network (SD REED) / South Dakota Board of Regents
Provides high speed connectivity for six SD public universities to Internet2 and regional networks and interconnects sites including the NTN, Great Planes Network, the Northern Lights Gigapop and ESnet. Several institutions and research centers in the state are members of the NTNC.

University of North Dakota (UND)
Along with NDSU, has been an Internet2 member for North Dakota since 1996. Together UND and NDSU provide Internet2 sponsorship for the other nine NDUS institutions, the ND Tribal Colleges and the public K-12 schools. UND is a member of NTNC. Together, NDSU and UND comprise the partnership of NTN-ND.

University of Wisconsin, Madison
Provides network operations center (NOC) services for NTN-ND and is a member of the NTNC.

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