MCNC selects vendors for its North Carolina middle mile network extension

MCNC, a service provider focused on serving North Carolina's K20 education community, is putting its broadband stimulus dollars to work as it names the three suppliers to construct the $20 million extension of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) in southeastern and western North Carolina. A fourth company was selected to conduct the $1.8 million optical design piece of the network extension.

After seeking proposals to build a middle mile fiber network that would connect various anchor institutions--a major focus of the first and second round of the broadband stimulus awards--MCNC awarded two fiber construction contracts to Fiber Technologies and Globe Communications, while Comtech would provide fiber splicing and Cisco will provide optical design.

Fiber Technologies will install about 200 miles of fiber on the Western segment of the network, including includes segments from Hickory to Lenoir, Asheville to Old Fort, Enka to Sylva, and Hendersonville to Huntersville. Globe Communications, meanwhile, will construct 220 miles beginning in Rocky Mount and running through Greenville, New Bern, Morehead City, and Jacksonville before ending in Wilmington.

Similar to other middle mile projects such as New York's Independent Optical Network, Massachusetts-based Open Cape, and a New Hampshire-led coalition, the NCREN extension project was funded through a $28.2 million broadband grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) to build 500 miles of new fiber to expand the footprint of NCREN in southeastern and western North Carolina. In turn, MCNC put up $11.17 million in matching funds, including $4 million from the MCNC endowment, bringing the total cost of the project to $40 million. What's perhaps different about the project is that it did not require any state taxes.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded a $75.75 million grant earlier in August through a second round of funding to support the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI) to expand high-speed connectivity in rural unserved and underserved portions of the state.  

For more:
- see the release
- and the MCNC video

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North Carolina seeks funds to build 'middle mile' network
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