MCNC Campus aerial view

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 4,400 miles of fiber optic infrastructure to underserved and unserved communities in North Carolina.

To enlarge the map to the right click here.

MCNC backbone map 20 years of expansion

The History of MCNC

North Carolina General Assembly initially funds the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina to be a catalyst for technology-based economic development throughout the state.
1980 Aerial view of building
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.
1985 MCNC Team
The domain was registered on the Internet on January 15, 1987. It is number 6 on the list of the oldest .org registered domains.
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.
The Vistanet project focuses on research in communications, computer science, and the use of supercomputing to support cancer treatment through computer visualization.
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.
Magazine photo of MCNC team on the Tower on Alexander Dr
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.
News paper cutout of MCNC's Alan Blatecky in special broadcasts on UNC Public TV to discuss plans for the state's new Information Highway
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.
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.
1997 Internet2 GigaPoPs Map
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.
NCREN Video Gateway diagram
Cronos is sold to JDS Uniphase Corporation. Proceeds to MCNC enables over $100 million investment in the state.
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.
e-NC Logo
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.
NC Biogrid Logo
MCNC is restructured into two companies. Research and venture funding activities are established as a separate company, MCNC Research and Development Institute (MCNC-RDI).
MCNC R&D Institute Logo
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.
MCNC is selected to lead applications support for Internet2’s Hybrid Optical and Packet Infrastructure test bed.
Internet2’s Hybrid Optical and Packet Infrastructure
NCREN and N.C. State University are selected by National Lambda Rail (NLR) to operate its first national Experiment Support Services.
NLR Logo
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.
World map with International Air Traffic Paths
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.
School Connectivity Celebration Logo
MCNC celebrates 25 years of the North Carolina Education and Research Network (NCREN).
NCREN 25 Year Logo
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.
Work being done next to road
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.
North Carolina Telehealth Network Logo
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.
North Carolina Map
MCNC completed the first phase of the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI) with 957 total operated miles (442 of which were new construction).
MCNC's Round 1 BTOP Official Logo
MCNC completed the second and final phase of the $144 million GLRBI, spanning more than 2,600 miles through 82 counties across the state.
MCNC Broadband for the Future
MCNC celebrates 30 years of the North Carolina Research and Education Network.
MCNC 30 Year Celebration Cake
Jean Davis named MCNC's first female President and CEO.
Jean Davis
NCREN connects 13 North Carolina State Highway Patrol sites.
MCNC completes upgrade of multiple 100Gbps network connections to Internet2.
internet2 member logo
MCNC updated the NCREN backbone with advanced traffic routing capabilities and deployed multiple Denial of Services (DDoS) scrubbing centers on the network.
MCNC Updates to the NCREN Backbone
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.
Piedmont Fiber Expansion CAI Map
More than 1,000 people were at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) on Aug. 21 to witness this year's total solar eclipse – by far the largest event in PARI’s history. MCNC's western data center housed inside the PARI Research Building provided the level of connectivity on MCNC’s network, NCREN, that was a key component to extending PARI's eclipse program and research capabilities to a broader segment of the population.
Total Solar Eclipse - Pari - 8/21/2017
MCNC introduced a unique social media campaign this year using #CapontheMove. Throughout the year, the MCNC Community shared hundreds of photos that included the official MCNC cap – which was spotted in Paris, San Francisco, Michigan, Charleston, Hawaii, in the air above Greenville, during a solar eclipse, in the mountains, at the beach, at Harvard, and cities and towns throughout North Carolina. Amazing where our community likes to go!
Cap on the Move. Share your photos! #caponthemove
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.
Triangle Fiber Project Paths
MCNC celebrates 35 years of the North Carolina Research and Education Network.
The Magic of NCREN - 35 years and counting - NCREN Community Day 2019 - November 13-14 in Durham, NC
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.
Wester NCREN Fiber Extension Map
Tracy Doaks named MCNC's ninth President and CEO.
Tracy Doaks, MCNC CEO
MCNC announced in October the creation of its Cybersecurity Practice, Vital Cyber, to ensure all of North Carolina’s important community anchor institutions can access affordable and reliable cybersecurity solutions.
Vital Cyber Logo
MCNC presented North Carolina Network Moments showcasing the collaboration and co-investments in new high-speed, scalable broadband connectivity made by MCNC and Meta (formerly Facebook) over the past year in western North Carolina counties of Rutherford, Burke, Caldwell, Wilkes, and Surry.
Meta partnered with MCNC to connect 28 community anchor institutions in Western NC

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PO Box 12889
3021 East Cornwallis Road
RTP, NC 27709-2889
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