First Phase of North Carolina Fiber Network Is Complete

  • Broadband Stimulus
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – The first round of the $144 million Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI) was completed nearly a year ahead of schedule, according to network builder MCNC. All fiber for this phase of the middle-mile network is now active and serving community anchor institutions, including K-12 schools, universities, community colleges, health care facilities, public health facilities, libraries, research institutions and others in western and southeastern North Carolina. Through MCNC's commercial partner, FRC, which invested $4 million in the project, fiber is now available to serve commercial businesses and last-mile consumer broadband needs in these regions.

The GLRBI is funded through grants from U.S. Department of Commerce’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and significant matching funds from private donations and investments, including a $24 million investment from the Golden LEAF Foundation. Once its second phase - which is three times larger than the first - is completed in 2013, the GLRBI will greatly expand the reach and capacity of the North Carolina Research and Education Network.

“This first phase of the project already is having a positive impact on student learning, patient outcomes in health care, economic outcomes in job creation and community development, and is accelerating innovation and research all across the state,” said MCNC President and CEO Joe Freddoso. “Our goal is to continue creating infrastructure that meets the advanced needs of research, education, and health care while stabilizing costs to consumers and small businesses in areas where affordable broadband currently isn’t available.”

Since the project began, all North Carolina community colleges have been connected to NCREN; the video services infrastructure on the network was upgraded; East Carolina University received a 10 Gbps network upgrade and now serves as a hub for most of eastern North Carolina; the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville now has a 10 Gbps connection; Vidant Medical Center in Pitt County became the first not-for-profit hospital connected to the N.C. Telehealth Network via NCREN; and finally, spending on engineering and construction attributed to the project has created and/or saved hundreds of jobs throughout the state.

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