Sept 95 Level of Gvt: State Function: Education, Medicine Problem/Situation: Video technology is being slowed by telecommunications expense as well as regulatory and turf roadblocks

Solution: Streamline existing state regulations that affect access costs and review regulations and laws regarding remote medical diagnosis and criminal arraignment to account for new technologies

Jurisdictions: Georgia, Iowa, California, Kansas, Maine, Montana, North Carolina and Oklahoma

Contact: Dennis Bybee, associate executive officer of the International Society for Technology in Education, 703/351-5243

By Tod Newcombe News Editor Hoping to take advantage of distance learning's technological prowess as a teaching tool, the University of Maine decided to build a new campus that would rely almost exclusively on two-way video for teaching. Instead of buildings and professors, the campus would simply deliver courses to students via video broadcasts from the university's seven other campuses

Eventually, some students would receive degrees from the video-networked campus

But in April, J. Michael Orenduff - the university's chancellor who led the way for the video campus - resigned when faculty objected strongly to the idea. According to a report in The New York Times, the incident has raised "questions about the extent to which technology will displace college professors ... and is seen as a forerunner to conflicts at other colleges." Cultural resistance to distance learning is but one issue of many that threatens to slow down the widespread use of video technology as a tool for education, as well as medicine and criminal justice. Concerns about affordability, legal issues and regulatory constraints have cropped up as federal, state and local governments expand their use of interactive video as a tool to help doctors, educators and judges do more while public resources shrink

Applications of varying sizes involving distance learning, telemedicine and video arraignment are under way in virtually every state and many large urban locations. Iowa is implementing its own $100 million statewide network, with a heavy emphasis on distance learning. Georgia has invested more than $50 million in its Statewide Academic and Medical System

Oklahoma announced last year the start of a $3.4 million telemedicine network. The list goes on

Driving this growing investment in state-of-the-art telecommunications is a desire on the part of government executives to make their states economically viable. Without distance learning and telemedicine reaching into every urban and rural community, states fear they may strike out in terms of attracting new businesses, jobs and people

CONNECTION COSTS Building a statewide video network is an expensive undertaking, and the payback is considered long term by a number of educational and medical experts. One of the major objections to distance learning by the professors at the University of Maine was its relatively high cost for a tool that teaches few students. The $13 million network was expected to serve approximately 3,000 out of the 25,000 students in the university's seven campuses. Georgia has spent the equivalent of $250,000 for each site on its 200-node video network

Equipping a classroom with video cameras and monitors, sound equipment, computers and software can run from $90,000 to $150,000. The American Medical Association estimates that between $40,000 and $60,000 is needed to equip a hospital room for remote diagnostics and examinations. Costs per site for court video arraignment run about $40,000, according to the National Center for State Courts

Another major cost for any two-way video application is the bandwidth necessary to transmit the images. Annual user fees can easily hit $40,000, though Georgia reported that it pays $1,000 per month to link its high school classrooms using a half-T1 line

Educators and medical experts are concerned that the high cost of video transmissions and the discrepancy of costs in urban and rural areas will impede widespread development. The American Medical News (April 10, 1995) reported that the hodgepodge of regulations governing telecommunications has resulted in some telemedicine systems spending as much