MBC, Old Dominion University win $10 million broadband stimulus grant

Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative and Old Dominion University's partnership is paying off as the duo won a $10 million broadband stimulus grant to build out an open access fiber network in southeastern Virginia.

Both MBC and ODU will invest $1.2 million each in the $12.5 million project to build a 170-mile of fiber-based open access network as part of the national Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). Already boasting over 800 miles of its own fiber, the 170 new fiber miles will be used to extend from existing MBC network connection points in Emporia and Wakefield.

ODU will leverage the new infrastructure for not only the university's own advanced research and education initiatives, but also for outreach services.  

In addition to ODU, Tad Deriso, the MBC president and CEO, said more than 60 community anchor institutions, such as schools, hospitals and emergency response departments, will be connected to the new open access network facilities. These institutions will be able to purchase new telecom services from MBC's private sector service provider members.

While the initial goal of the new network facilities is to bring more broadband capabilities to underserved areas, the new network, which leverages Infinera's (Nasdaq: INFN) Digital Optical Network equipment, will extend the reach of MBC's network into the Norfolk, Va. market. Potential users in the Norfolk area will then be able to access other MBC network providers, including Intellifiber, Level3 (Nasdaq: LVLT), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Qwest (NYSE: Q).

While there has been a fair amount of last mile BTOP awards, the MBC/ODU grant is one of many new middle mile projects to be funded since the beginning of 2010. They join other community initiatives, including Southern Massachusetts-based Open Cape and New York-based ION Networks that have also won grants for middle mile projects.

For more:
- see the release here (PDF)

Related articles:
Middle mile providers: Complementary, not competitive
Independent Optical Networks lights up new opportunities
Mass.-based OpenCape wins $32 million broadband grant
MCNC enters the broadband stimulus winner's circle

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