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State of Kansas awards $5 million grant to Connected Nation to build the state’s first Internet Exchange Point at Wichita State University

Internet ‘hub’ will improve network performance, lower costs, and improve access
to cloud services across south-central Kansas

Wichita, Kan. (November 29, 2023) –  Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced today that her administration has awarded a $5 million grant to construct the state’s first carrier-neutral Internet Exchange Point (IXP)[1] adjacent to Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus. Connected Nation Internet Exchange Points (CNIXP), LLC — a joint venture between Kentucky-based nonprofit Connected Nation and carrier hotel pioneer Hunter Newby — will build, own and operate the facility at the northwest corner of East 21st Street North and Fountain Avenue, directly across from WSU’s Eck Stadium.

The facility will allow local and regional networks to directly peer (i.e., exchange data traffic) with each other, as well as cloud services and content networks (such as Amazon, Netflix, Google and Microsoft) — making connectivity to those and many other networks faster and more secure. The facility will also serve as a venue for the highest-bandwidth, lowest-latency, lowest-cost, most-resilient network connectivity available anywhere in the state, greatly enhancing the quality and performance of regional Internet connections.

“The IXP will not only support the Wichita State community and its Innovation Campus partners,” said Tom Ferree, chairman and CEO of Connected Nation, “it will also support economic development by improving the entire regional broadband landscape — preparing Wichita, and Kansas more broadly, for the future evolution of the Internet and all that it will enable. The facility will also put Kansas ‘on the map’ for new long-haul fiber optic cable builds and will directly support the new open-access fiber optic conduit system that is being built under a separate $42.5 million federal grant that was awarded to the Kansas Department of Commerce back in June. We couldn’t be more thrilled about this opportunity.”

WSU will provide a 40-year ground lease for the facility as an in-kind matching contribution to the grant, subject to final approval by the Kansas Board of Regents. The hardened modular facility will be constructed to withstand 200 mph winds and will have redundant electrical and mechanical systems so that it can remain fully operational even during extended community power outages. The facility will also be capable of expanding on a modular basis with zero down-time as network operator needs grow in the coming years.

“As part of our commitment to Wichita State and the region, CNIXP will also provide space and services for the university to establish a network interconnection presence in the facility at no cost for 40 years so that it can fully realize the facility’s benefits,” said Hunter Newby, founder and CEO of Newby Ventures. “These services will provide more than $2 million in value back to the university. Additionally, the synergies with everything happening on the Innovation Campus are nearly limitless. This collaboration will truly be a model for other universities around the country to follow — and once again, WSU is leading the pack.”

"A thriving community is built on connections," said WSU President Rick Muma. "Establishing a carrier-neutral IXP at Wichita State, right in the heart of our state, will drive innovation and ensure that all Kansans have access to the increased opportunities provided by this highly efficient and reliable digital infrastructure."

Several other community members and WSU Innovation Campus partners also offered supporting comments:

“In today’s hyperconnected world, turning great ideas into new products and services that improve people’s lives and drive economic development requires resilient and cost-effective networks. Cisco looks forward to deepening our existing partnership with Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus leveraging our industrial Internet of Things portfolio and skills training programs to enable students, partners, and communities in Wichita and across Kansas to make the most of the opportunities that the new IXP will bring.” said Gary DePreta, Vice President of U.S. State, Local Governments, and Education at Cisco. “WSU’s Innovation Campus and the new IXP will further drive network resilience and performance, unlocking innovation and economic opportunity.”

“I am very excited about the opportunities a local IXP can bring to the region. For many companies, high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity at a reasonable cost is not only important to their operations, but in many instances can also provide a competitive advantage,” said Robin Huber, Vice President of ONTAP Core Software & Data Management at NetApp, a WSU Innovation Campus partner. “From that standpoint, the IXP has great potential to attract more companies and bring economic growth to the local region and state, and the fact that the IXP is carrier-neutral is of great importance in that regard.”

“As we celebrate this announcement, we're not just talking about a technological advancement; we're heralding a new era of connectivity and digital empowerment,” said Rob Dickson, Chief Information Officer of Wichita Public Schools. “This state-of-the-art IXP represents a monumental leap towards enhancing the digital infrastructure of our state. It promises to revolutionize the way our schools - from urban to rural areas - access and utilize the internet. This is more than an infrastructure development; it's a commitment to ensuring that every student and educator in Kansas has the tools for success in an increasingly interconnected world. By significantly lowering the cost of Internet access and improving its quality, we are setting the stage for our young learners to thrive in the digital age, preparing them for the challenges of tomorrow.”

Construction is expected to begin in January and will take approximately 18 months. iM Data Centers of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will function as general contractor on the project and will utilize local labor when possible. DE-CIX, the world’s premier Internet Exchange ecosystem, will serve as the IX platform operator within the facility.

For more information about the project, or to pre-order space in the facility, interested parties may contact

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About Wichita State University:  Wichita State University is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling more than 23,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of its students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

Follow Wichita State on social media: LinkedIn (Wichita State University); Instagram (@wichitastateu); YouTube (@wichitastateu); X (@WichitaState); Facebook (@wichita.state)

About Connected Nation (CN): Nonprofit Connected Nation’s mission is to improve lives by providing innovative solutions that expand access to, and the use of, broadband and related technologies for people everywhere. For more information, please visit: and follow CN on Facebook and X.

About Newby Ventures:  Newby Ventures, LLC is a personal holding company for interests held in a variety of carrier-neutral colocation and interconnection facilities. Hunter Newby is its founder, chairman, and CEO. Mr. Newby has over 20 years of ownership and management experience in the network interconnection industry. He is both an active and former owner, co-founder, partner or board member in numerous carrier-neutral colocation and interconnection businesses including: ColoATL, DataVerge, Fibre Centre, Netrality Properties, NJFX and The Telx Group, Inc. For more information, please visit and follow Mr. Newby on LinkedIn.