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CTN History

The Community Telecommunications Network (CTN) is a 501c3 non-profit corporation representing a unique combination of urban and suburban organizations serving the community, K-12 education, higher education and public television in southeast Michigan. Created in 1987 CTN is a partnership of Detroit Public Television, Macomb Intermediate School District, Oakland Schools, School District of the City of Detroit, Wayne Regional Education Service Agency and Wayne State University.

Chartering institutions applied and received licenses from the Federal Communications Commission to operate Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) broadcasting services on frequencies put aside for educational use. CTN was created to operate the licenses on behalf of member institutions creating an 18-channel public service television/telecommunications system dedicated to education and human resource development.

Broadcast transmitters were collocated at a cooperative operations center in order to take advantage of common facilities, technical staff, faculty, and the educational expertise of the members. With limited financial resources, a broad scope of programs, educational training and informational services were designed to maximize the efficient use of ITFS spectrum and provide new /extended services to the community of southeast Michigan. Original programming include a K-12 educational series originally known as M*Star, the working channel and the college cable channel.

In addition, CTN became the leasing agent for the partnership allowing them to use the excess capacity of the system as a source of funding. In the mid 90’s the FCC realigned the ITFS frequencies and rules were enacted allowing for expanded partnerships between private for profit and non-profit agencies. CTN explored partnerships with a variety of organizations including Eastern Cable People’s Choice and eventually Sprint.

In the early 2000’s the technology matured and ITFS frequencies became valuable assets to broadband wireless development through out the country. CTN members recognized this shift and a new partnership with business and industry was solidified with Sprint/Clearwire to move from a broadcast environment to a two-way interactive service.

Always keeping in mind the original mission of the partnership to:”…enhance the quality of life in southeast Michigan through the creative use of telecommunications…”

Today CTN continues to serve government, education and the community as a wireless service partner. Facing these challenges amidst the turbulence of technological change and closing the “digital Gap” are what brought the chartering institutions of CTN together and continue to be its major effort today.