MCNC to grow fiber broadband network in southeastern North Carolina

The new fiber infrastructure will link communities between Sanford and Farmville in Greene, Harnett, Johnston, and Wayne counties with the help of $1,327,130 from the Golden LEAF Foundation.

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MCNC, the technology nonprofit that builds, owns, and operates the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN; see, for example, "MCNC connects 22 anchor institutions to the North Carolina Research and Education Network"), has announced that it is expanding its fiber broadband network footprint in southeastern North Carolina. The new fiber infrastructure will link communities between Sanford and Farmville in Greene, Harnett, Johnston, and Wayne counties with the help of $1,327,130 from the Golden LEAF Foundation.

The new infrastructure should benefit area’s agricultural industry. MCNC will collaborate with North Carolina State University as part of the project to connect cooperative extension offices along the route as well as the Cherry Research Farm in Goldsboro. The Cherry Research Farm serves as the home of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, a joint effort between the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and North Carolina State University to focus on sustainable agriculture technologies.

MCNC says it also will encourage the development of partnerships with local wireless and fixed internet service providers to expand internet access in surrounding communities. The network expansion also will help connect community anchor institutions, including Johnston and Wayne Community Colleges and Greene, Harnett, Johnston, and Wayne County schools. MCNC estimates the initiative will provide direct fiber access to NCREN for additional 20 locations.

The project will use 138 miles of newly built fiber plant to improve the NCREN’s operation and resiliency in the state’s southeast as well as design and deploy 18.5 miles of new fiber cable to fully connect these locations. Construction began in July and is expected to finish in early 2020. The total project cost is estimated at $2.5 million.

"MCNC remains focused on delivering the highest-quality connectivity services available to the public sector of North Carolina," said MCNC President and CEO Jean Davis. "North Carolina is a state of internet haves and have nots. Once again, with the support of the Golden LEAF Foundation, we are able to reach our important agricultural-based communities and other rural areas of the state that need us the most and close the gap."

"The Golden LEAF Foundation is proud to support the efforts of MCNC to connect rural North Carolina communities to high-speed internet," said Golden LEAF Acting President Ted Lord. "This project will help break down the barriers to reliable broadband by connecting community anchor institutions and cooperative extension offices in these counties and by creating opportunities for residential providers to take advantage of this infrastructure to reach more people."

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