About MCNC


About MCNC

For more than a quarter century 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.

Over the last 5 years, 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 is investing 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, the NCREN user-community now includes: 17 institutions of the UNC System and General Administration; 95 North Carolina Charter Schools; 27 of the 36 North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities; 58 North Carolina Community Colleges; research institutions and foundations; 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 – The Vistanet project is implemented – the first operational national gigabit test bed using OC48 backbone. 3-D imaging computers at UNC use MCNC supercomputing resources to enable medical researchers to simulate thousands of possible treatment options to find the optimal therapy for individual patients, targeting radiation in a much more precise way than previously was possible.



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 – Through a collaborative effort between the Department of Information Technology (DIT) and NCREN, North Carolina becomes the first state 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” is developed – an extremely fast access point, or high-speed on-ramp, to the next generation Internet. This network infrastructure becomes a model throughout the world and is used to test next-generation networking applications and systems, leading to the establishment of a national network testing laboratory in North Carolina. 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 becomes 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 in that service with full, continuous presence audio for all participants all the time. All participants at remote sites can hear audio and see video from all other sites - exactly how a conversation would work if they were all in the same room.

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 connectivity to the K12 community, creating a K20 network in the state.

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

2010 - MCNC was awarded two rounds of Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) historic funding to expand high-speed connectivity through the North Carolina Research and Education Network.