Archive for Thursday, October 6, 2005

KU’s $400,000 uplink going unused

October 6, 2005


It was a $400,000 system expected to beam Kansas University into the national spotlight.

But two years after its purchase, a satellite uplink housed at the Dole Institute of Politics sits unused.

"It sounds very glamorous," said Paul Carttar, executive vice chancellor for external affairs.

But, Carttar said, the uplink has limitations and is expensive to operate. For these reasons, he said, the university is exploring what to do with the technology.

"We're looking at every option," he said.

The uplink, which resembles a traditional satellite dish, sends video images to a satellite orbiting Earth. That satellite sends the images to a recipient.

The uplink was the brainchild of former Dole Institute director Richard Norton Smith, a frequent guest on network news shows. It was purchased using private funds.

But Smith never used the uplink. And since its installation, it has been used only once, during former President Bill Clinton's speech in May 2004.

Bill Lacy, director of the Dole Institute, said he has had one or two requests to use the uplink in the past year. In those cases, those requesting to use the uplink had to find another way to meet their needs, Lacy said.

When it first became operational in spring 2004, the uplink was billed as a way to allow KU faculty to stay on campus while being featured as guests on CNN or C-SPAN.

It was received with a bit of fanfare.

At the time, Mike Lickert, director of video services for the athletic department, told the Journal-World: "It will really put KU up to par with the other Big 12 schools."

Calls to Lickert on Wednesday were returned by Jim Marchiony, KU's associate athletic director.

"Would it be a convenience? Yes, it would," Marchiony said. "But we've got other ways to get the job done."

Lacy said he believes the uplink was expected to have more uses outside the Dole Institute.

"I'm not sure any of that has materialized," he said.

Lacy said he was more focused on the ability to stream video and have video on demand on the institute's Web site as a way to get information about the institute to the public.

The uplink would cost more than $100,000 annually to operate, including costs for staff to operate and maintain the dish and charges to access the satellite, Carttar said.

"All of that can be well worth it if there's sufficient desire to work it," he said. "We haven't reached any final conclusions here."


newsreader 12 years, 8 months ago

We should have a slogan...

"Kansas, we'll waste money on anything!"

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