AUGUST 26, 2009 -- Fiber-based telecom provider 360networks (USA) inc. (search Lightwave for 360networks) has filed its application for federal stimulus funding to expand broadband access to rural and underserved markets. 360networks operates a 17,200-mile fiber network in the western United States. The company says it sees an opportunity that would open access to numerous underserved populations by creating rural points of presence (PoPs) at amplifier and regeneration sites along its fiber-optic backbone. Many of the sites are centered in underserved markets where economic returns have not enabled access to date.
360network's proposed "middle-mile" project will access 17 rural markets and a surrounding 10-mile radius along its existing 1,011-mile fiber-optic route extending from Chicago, IL to New Orleans, LA. The route is diverse to most national fiber backbones, potentially creating a cost-effective alternative for broadband providers from most existing backhaul solutions. 360networks has been working with last-mile service providers over the past six months to deliver a package that offers connectivity to the nation's fiber backbone as well as turnkey products for last-mile providers including local cable companies, local exchange companies, and wireless providers. 360networks says the connectivity and products it plans to offer will allow last-mile providers to better support broadband requirements of the consumers, businesses, and government agencies in these underserved markets.
The middle-mile infrastructure project will either directly or indirectly promote all purposes of the federal broadband stimulus programs by providing access to rural and underserved businesses and residential consumers, improving access to community anchor institutions and broadband for public safety agencies, and stimulating broadband, economic growth, and job creation. According to the service provider, because the project leverages broadband infrastructure already constructed, it is a cost-effective approach to bring access to these underserved areas.
This proposal for middle-mile access is expected to increase affordable broadband access and may be easily replicated in future projects. 360networks continues to work with last-mile partners and state and local agencies to meet the goals and requirements of these federal programs. Other areas where the company has diverse fiber routes and has been approached by last-mile providers include Washington, Idaho, and Montana.