Fiber shines again in latest NTIA broadband stimulus announcements

FEBRUARY 19, 2010 By Stephen Hardy -- The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has released additional broadband stimulus funds under its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). As was the case with previous funding announcements, projects leveraging fiber-optic technology did extremely well.

FEBRUARY 19, 2010 By Stephen Hardy -- The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has released additional broadband stimulus funds under its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). As was the case with previous funding announcements, projects leveraging fiber-optic technology did extremely well (see "First broadband stimulus awards announced" and "Fiber dominates latest US rural broadband stimulus funds release").

The NTIA made a pair of funding announcements over the past week. The most recent came yesterday, when Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced 10 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act investments worth a total of $357 million. Broadband infrastructure grants accounted for $332.9 million of this total, of which fiber-enabled projects accounted for $274 million.

The fiber-based projects included:

  • Indiana: Zayo Bandwidth, LLC will receive a $25.1 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $10.7 million applicant-provided match to connect 21 Ivy Tech Community College campuses to the state’s existing I-Light network. The project calls for a 626-mile fiber-optic network to provide 1- to 10-Gbps connections between the Ivy Tech campuses and the 42 colleges and universities already on the I-Light network.
  • Pennsylvania: Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research earned a $99.7 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $29 million applicant-provided match to create the Pennsylvania Research and Education Network (PennREN). Via nearly 1,700 miles of fiber, the initiative hopes to expand broadband Internet access and directly connect 60 critical community anchor institutions in 39 counties across south and central Pennsylvania with broadband speeds of 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps.
  • West Virginia: The Executive Office of the State of West Virginia will receive a $126.3 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $33.5 million applicant-provided match to expand the state’s existing microwave public safety network and add approximately 2,400 miles of fiber. The expanded statewide network will be expected to offer speeds of up to 45 Mbps and directly connect more than 1,000 anchor institutions.
  • Wisconsin: The State of Wisconsin Department of Administration will use a $22.9 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $5.7 million applicant-provided match to directly connect 385 libraries, 74 school districts, and eight community colleges (including two tribal colleges) to the existing high-speed BadgerNet Converged Network by deploying 203 miles of new fiber connections. The new connections are expected to provide schools and libraries with enhanced broadband speeds of between 20 Mbps and 100 Mbps.


These grants followed a February 12 announcement that $21.5 million in BTOP funds would go to a pair of fiber-based projects in Virginia:

  • The Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative will use a $16 million infrastructure grant with an additional $4 million in applicant-provided matching funds to add 465 miles of new fiber that will directly connect 121 K-12 schools in southern Virginia to an existing 800-mile fiber network. The new connections will improve data rates from 1.5 Mbps to at least10 Mbps. In addition, the expanded fiber deployment will enable more than 30 Internet service providers to connect to the project’s open network.
  • Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc. received a $5.5 million infrastructure grant with an additional $1.4 million in applicant-provided matching funds to add 110 miles of open access fiber-optic infrastructure between Blacksburg and Bedford City—an existing network operated by the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative. The resulting network will cross six counties in Virginia’s Appalachian region, and provide direct, high-speed connections to Virginia Tech’s main campus in Blacksburg and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke.



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