About MCNC

For more than 30 years, MCNC has operated a robust, secure, exclusive communications network that has connected institutions of the University of North Carolina System, Duke University, and Wake Forest University to each other, and through advanced research networks such as Internet2 and National Lambda Rail, to the world.

MCNC has expanded the reach of its services to non-profit and university hospitals, public safety, libraries and other key CAIs. Through two Broadband Technology Opportunities (BTOP) grants and other private investments, MCNC invested over $140M in a network infrastructure that is able to meet the rapidly increasing bandwidth demands and shared services needs of North Carolina-based CAIs for the foreseeable future.


NCREN, operated by the non-profit organization MCNC, is one of the nation's first statewide education and research networks. It provides broadband communications technology services and support to K-12 school districts, higher education campuses and academic research institutions across North Carolina. MCNC offers NCREN technology tools and services to guarantee equal access to 21st century learning by providing a future-proof technology network that is the foundation for change and innovation in our educational systems. In addition to all public school districts in North Carolina, as of June 2017, the NCREN user community includes: 17 institutions of the UNC System and General Administration; 128 North Carolina Charter Schools; 21 private colleges and universities; 58 North Carolina Community Colleges; research institutions and foundations; 23 public safety locations and, along with the N.C. Office of Information Technology Services and other partners, MCNC provides broadband services for numerous non-profit hospitals and public health agencies through the N.C. Telehealth Network.


MCNC is the company and NCREN is the network, our flagship product.
MCNC is Connecting North Carolina's Future Today.

MCNC History - A Brief Timeline

1980 – North Carolina General Assembly initially funds the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina to be a catalyst for technology-based economic development throughout the state.

1985 – MCNC receives state mandate for providing and operating an advanced communications network CONCERT (subsequently called NCREN). Initial microwave system linking NCSU, UNC-CH, Duke University, NC A&T, UNC-C, Research Triangle Institute and MCNC is completed. This is the first broadcast-quality, two-way interactive, multipoint video and audio system in the United States.

1987 - The mcnc.org domain was registered on the Internet on January 15, 1987. It is number 6 on the list of the oldest .org registered domains.

1990 - Vistanet, the first national gigabit test bed, connects 3-D imaging computers at UNC Chapel Hill, and supercomputing resources at MCNC to enable more effective cancer treatment.

1991 - The Vistanet project focuses on research in communications, computer science, and the use of supercomputing to support cancer treatment through computer visualization.

1993 – NCREN completes broadband connections to each of the 18 core members of the network, combining video and data, using a combination of digital microwave technology and broadband ATM technology.

1994 - ITS, MCNC, and the service provider community collaborates to be the first to deploy high-speed network capabilities to every county through the North Carolina Information Highway.

1995 – All 16 campuses of the UNC system, Duke University and Wake Forest University are able to fully participate in the high-quality, two-way interactive video capabilities enabled by NCREN.

1997 - World's first “GigaPOP” developed for access to Internet2. The GigaPOP becomes the gateway for all Internet service for all NCREN customers and the state government. This includes North Carolina becoming one of the first states to connect to Internet2.

2000 - NCREN builds the nation’s first near-broadcast quality two-way interactive video system using Internet-based technology (IP using MPEG2) to support up to 20 simultaneous locations.

2000 – Cronos is sold to JDS Uniphase Corporation. Proceeds to MCNC enables over $100 million investment in the state.

2000 – MCNC pledges $30 million to Rural Internet Access Authority, now operating as e-NC Authority. The donation helps accelerate the spread of high-speed Internet access across North Carolina.

2001 – North Carolina BioGrid establishes partnership with universities, the N.C. Biotechnology Center and private-sector companies using MCNC resources. The N.C. BioGrid is one of the nation’s first scientific grid computing test beds.

2003 – MCNC is restructured into two companies. Research and venture funding activities are established as a separate company, MCNC Research and Development Institute (MCNC-RDI).

2005 – The research operations of MCNC-RDI are sold to RTI International. MCNC-RDI its changes name to NC IDEA with the mission to provide early-stage companies with venture funding, grants and loans.

2005 – MCNC is selected to lead applications support for Internet2’s Hybrid Optical and Packet Infrastructure test bed.

2005 – NCREN and N.C. State University are selected by National LambdaRail (NLR) to operate its first national Experiment Support Services.

2006 – MCNC leads U.S. consortium for first international demonstration of integrated computing and network technology as part of the Global Lambda Integrated Facility, including Virtual Computing Lab resources at N.C. State University.

2008 - MCNC provides NCREN connectivity to all 115 school districts at 100Mbps or higher bandwidth creating a statewide K-20 network on time and on budget.  The Client Network Engineering team is established to provide engineering support services to the K-12 community.

2009 - MCNC celebrates 25 years of the North Carolina Education and Research Network (NCREN).

2010 - MCNC awarded $144M in two rounds of private and Federal Government funds through the Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) to build and expand NCREN’s infrastructure to touch 82 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and provide a highway of the future for the State and its citizens. This historic funding is one of the largest investments in broadband infrastructure in North Carolina’s history.

2010 - MCNC collaborates with the NC Department of Information Technology (DIT) to provide Intranet backbone, Internet access services, and Internet2 access service for the North Carolina Telehealth Network (NCTN). The NCTN leverages both the DIT backbone network and NCREN.

2011 - Working with the North Carolina Community College System, MCNC connects all 58 NC Community College main campuses to NCREN at 100Mbps or higher bandwidth on time and on budget.

2012 - MCNC completed the first phase of the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI) with 957 total operated miles (442 of which were new construction).

2013 - MCNC completed the second and final phase of the $144 million GLRBI, spanning more than 2,600 miles through 82 counties across the state.

2014 - MCNC celebrates 30 years of the North Carolina Research and Education Network.

2014 - Jean Davis named MCNC's first female President and CEO.

2014 - NCREN connects 13 North Carolina State Highway Patrol sites.

2015 - MCNC completes upgrade of multiple 100Gbps network connections to Internet2.

2016 - MCNC updated the NCREN backbone with advanced traffic routing capabilities and deployed multiple Denial of Services (DDoS) scrubbing centers on the network.

2017 - Golden LEAF Piedmont Fiber Project - Golden LEAF Foundation partnered with MCNC to fund the construction of fiber and equipment to serve twenty-two (22) Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs), along a 90-mile fiber route in the Central region of the State.

2018 - Through a partnership with Duke University, we constructed more than 100 miles of new fiber in the Triangle area. This lays the foundation for continued high-level support of K-20 education and health care in this particular region as well as the entire state.