MCNC's History

Created in 1980, MCNC’s history spans more than 40 years as a leading force in the establishment of a well-connected North Carolina community. MCNC proudly provides high-end, comprehensive, and innovative services for education, research, libraries, healthcare, public safety, and other community anchor institutions throughout North Carolina.

The History of MCNC


In 1985, in collaboration with the State of North Carolina, MCNC began creating the statewide North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) to provide the first broadcast-quality, two-way interactive, multipoint video and audio system in the United States. NCREN is one of America’s longest-running regional research and education networks. Since its inception, MCNC has continued to engineer and expand the backbone, supporting over 4,000 miles of fiber optic infrastructure to underserved and unserved communities in North Carolina.

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The History of MCNC

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 beds, 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 changes its 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 Lambda Rail (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.
2019
MCNC celebrates 35 years of the North Carolina Research and Education Network.
2020
MCNC announced a collaboration with Facebook to make high-speed broadband available to nearly 30 Community Anchor Institutions in the western North Carolina counties of Rutherford, Burke, Caldwell, Wilkes, and Surry.

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