Skip Maine state header navigation

Agencies | Online Services | Help

 Maine Telecommunications Education Access Fund
Advisory Board

Meeting Minutes for September 25, 2002

 

Members Present:             Phil Lindley, Joanne Steneck, Bill Black, Gary Nichols, Greg Scott, Barry Crommett, Jeff Letourneau for Gerry Dube,

 

Members Absent:            Scott Thibeau, Barry McCrum, Reginald Palmer

 

  1. Approval of Minutes from August 14, 2002, meeting.

 

  1. Status of Connections.  Barry Crommett reported that standard 56 kbps connections decreased to 446.  T-1 connections are up to 448 and ATM is the same at 66 (including shared sites).  In future reports Barry will provide the number of circuits (above) as well as the number of sites, indicating the number of shared circuits.  Thirty-one middle schools with 56kbps connections have changed to T-1's, due to the impact of the seventh grade laptops.  About 20 schools have not, either because the school is too small or has not yet responded to the offer.  Barry also stated that there have been no complaints from the Portland Public Library regarding its connections.
     
  2. Status of Internet Service and Filtering.  Jeff Letourneau summarized a report on the N2H2 product (attached) and distributed a list of N2H2 Filtering Categories (http://www.n2h2.com/, http://www.n2h2.com/products/categories.php).  The local control piece, or distributed management, that allows schools to select categories of filtering, appears to be effective.  The board discussed the need to directly notify superintendents of the local control capability.  Technical Coordinators have been informed and are choosing the settings.  Gerry is finalizing the contract which will be for three years with annual cancellation ability.  The first, partial year cost will be $120,000, and subsequent full years at $140,000.  The Board’s recommendation to accept UNET’s filtering solution and price will be sent to the PUC Commissioners for approval.  UNET’s contract with the MSL/DOE will be amended.
     
  3. Federal E-Rate Status.  Edna Comstock reported that the process for reimbursing UNET and Verizon has been completed (UNET has received its check).  The Year 2002 is in process.  The appeal regarding Year 2001 has been acknowledged by letter from SLD.  Edna said that the SLD VP, John Noran, asked about problem areas regarding MSLN2, since Maine is a low receiver state.  The Board’s initial response to Edna was “more funding and less paperwork.” 

 

  1. Leaning Technology Initiative.  Joanne Steneck said that there are approximately 19,000 machines.  The seventh graders have UNET access from the schools, but no decisions on home access have been made. 

 

  1. Other

 

·        T-1 Bandwidth increase for single building sites.  UNET is not aware of any individual sites that need the increased bandwidth.  A few multiple building/school sites may need another T-1 unless the site chooses an ATM connection.  If the schools share one T-1, adding a second is relatively simple.

 

·        MSLN connections used only for web space or as a backup will be discussed at the next meeting.  The Board did discuss those sites that use cable to connect to the Internet and still want to have access to the MSLN through UNET.  Jeff will look into the possible problems.  The MSLN funding could save the cost of transport for those sites that use alternatives to Verizon.  In addition, Barry, Jeff, and Linda agreed to communicate regarding any requests for MSLN disconnections.

 

·        The GOALs project, partially funded by MSLN in the past is completed.

 

·        Next MSLN Advisory Board Meeting – November 20, 2002, 1:30PM, PUC Conf. Room C.

 

 


 

MSLN Filtering

09/25/2002

 

 

  1. As discussed at the last Advisory Board meeting, UNET turned on content filtering on July 1, 2002 in order to comply with federal e-rate requirements.  As directed by the board, libraries were excluded from filtering.  This filtering was implemented on a trial basis using N2H2’s most recent product which is designed to allow for distributed management.

 

  1. N2H2 agreed to make a number of improvements to their product to accommodate the needs of MSLN.  Some of these improvements have already been made and others are expected within two weeks.  While there are still a few improvements we would like to see, the current set of features are quite adequate to support full delegated administration of filtering rules.

 

  1. Our experience thus far with the N2H2 product has been very positive.  When we began using it in July the release was in a beta test status.  We identified some problems, such as filtering when it should not, and these were corrected in a timely fashion.  During this period the support from N2H2 has been excellent.  We believe the product is now functioning correctly and has scaled very well.

 

  1. As we have mentioned previously, there are two products that meet our minimum requirements for filtering at the enterprise level.  Those are the 8e6 XStop product and the N2H2 products.  All other products have been eliminated for various deficiencies.  Between these two we believe the N2H2 product most closely meets our requirements for four reasons: (1) N2H2 has greater experience in filtering and as a result their database of Web site and page classifications is more mature than other products.  (2) N2H2 has been used by a number of schools in Maine and as a result many are already familiar with N2H2’s classifications.  (3) The N2H2 product is designed to work with cache engines that are already in use by UNET.  (4) The N2H2 architecture appears to scale better than the 8e6 product in our environment.

 

  1. In anticipation of the possibility that the N2H2 product might be selected, we have been working with the company to develop contract language that meets our needs.  These companies typically require multiple year contracts in order to provide the best pricing.  In this case, we have worked out language that would in essence be a three year agreement where we would have the right, for no cause, to terminate the agreement at the anniversary of years two and three.  That seems to address our situation where funding is only committed on a yearly basis.  It also provides us an opportunity to review other products as time goes one for improved functionality or reduced pricing.

 

  1. Products of this type are usually based on the number of stations.  In our environment this number is extremely difficult to measure and the best we can do is estimate.  We believe there were well in excess of 50,000 machines within MSLN before the laptop initiative, probably closer to 60,000.  Since the libraries are not filtering we could subtract some reasonable number, such as 5,000 or so.  There are also some schools that have chosen to continue doing their own filtering.  Some of those are still under their existing agreement with N2H2.  Our experience is indicating that most of the schools with existing contracts with N2H2 are converting to the MSLN enterprise filtering as their contracts expire.  At this time, 40 of 68 existing customers have converted to the new system.  We could speculate that as many as 10,000 machines are being filtered by local schools.  That would mean that there are still close to 45,000 (60,000 minus libraries, minus those doing their own filtering) machines being filtered.  Add to that the laptop initiative and we surely end up with over 60,000 machines covered, even allowing that some of the laptops fall within schools doing their own filtering.  So, we are using this figure of 60,000 as our best estimate of the number of machines being filtered.

 

  1. We have worked with N2H2 on pricing, taking into account the difficulty of generating an accurate count.  Furthermore, we did not want pricing to fluctuate each year.  We have reached an agreement with N2H2 to accommodate the potential 60,000 machine we now have with a commitment to hold that price fixed for up to 100,000 machines over the next three years.  Thus there would be no increase in pricing to MTEAF as schools add new machines or if the laptop initiative adds another round of machines next year.

 

  1. The pricing offered to us by N2H2 is for the software and database only.  UNET will provide the necessary server platform and additional cache engines to support the load.  The total yearly pricing for the service, including the N2H2 licensing, UNET hardware and support, is offered at $140,000 per year.  If there are 60,000 machines, that would equate $2.33/year per machine, well within the 2.25 to 3.00 per machine we mentioned at the December 2001 meeting of the board.  And, should the number of machine increase dramatically, up to 100,000 over the next three years, the price per machine would drop to as low at 1.40/year per machine.

 

  1. N2H2 has agreed to a reduced price for the first year, allowing that much of the months of July and August were periods of evaluation.  Thus the first year is being offered at $120,000 through June 30, 2003.

 

  1. Considering price, features, and other contractual concessions, we believe this is the best filtering option for MTEAF and we submit it for your approval.