Microelectronics Center of North Carolina's (MCNC) desire to build out an enhanced middle-mile network came one step closer to reality this week as it received word that it was awarded a $28.2 million broadband stimulus grant.
Providing network connectivity to K-12 school districts, colleges, academic research houses and public health facilities, MCNC runs the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN). By raising $11.7 million of its own matching funds through private sources, including $4 million from the MCNC endowment, making for a total $40 million investment into North Carolina's broadband market.
North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue praised the project for its potential to expand broadband infrastructure and boost the state's economy. "Increased broadband access for underserved areas is a critical infrastructure improvement that will help businesses of all sizes create jobs," said Perdue in a statement. "NCREN will also play a vital role as part of my Career and College - Ready, Set, Go! Initiative, which will help ensure those businesses have access to a well-trained workforce."
Along with providing enhanced broadband to local service providers and education, the project, which will take an estimated three years to design and build, could create about 230 engineering/construction jobs.
MCNC is not going it alone, however. It will deliver fiber-based connections to consumers and small businesses through local service provider (cable and telco) partners. Also on hand to help last mile providers reach end-users will be middle mile provider FRC/PalmettoNet.
Upon completion, MCNC estimates the network could serve more than 1,500 anchor institutions, 180,000 businesses, and more than 300,000 underserved families.
- see the release here
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