Oklahoma's OneNet wired backbone, funded by voters in 1992, began as a state education initiative. Operational since 1996, OneNet pays for itself through fees charged to the state agencies, county governments and municipalities it serves.
OneNet is vital for training public health employees spread across 77 counties and 70,000 square miles. "Desktop videoconferencing permits 1,300 employees from four agencies -- the Department of Health, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Department of Health Services and the Department of Mental Health -- to receive training simultaneously, without leaving their office," says Kurt Snodgrass, OneNet's chief operating officer.
"The productivity and efficiency gains of videoconferencing, as well as the savings in travel and lodging expenses, are significant," continues Snodgrass. "This is vital during these tough economic and budgetary conditions."
For the Department of Corrections, IP telephony is helping reduce operational costs because all calls between connected locations are now local.
"As state agencies see the benefits of VoIP, more of them are gaining trust in the technology and forming plans to adopt it," notes Snodgrass, who also serves as vice chancellor for IT and telecommunications for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.