MCNC, a non-profit that operates the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN; see "MCNC to grow fiber broadband network in southeastern North Carolina"), says that it will collaborate with Facebook to use a fiber network the latter is building to improve broadband access to nearly 30 community anchor institutions (CAIs) in the western North Carolina counties of Rutherford, Burke, Caldwell, Wilkes, and Surry. The communities will be able to access high-speed broadband at the CAIs.
Facebook is deploying a new fiber network route from Forest City, NC, where it operates a data center, to Dobson, NC. Forest City is approximately 75 miles west of Charlotte, while Dobson is approximately 85 miles north of Charlotte. The fiber roll-out is slated to complete this year and is part of a co-investment to leverage NCREN. MCNC says the addition of the new route will bring to 4000 the number of fiber miles operated within NCREN.
"MCNC is excited about this project with Facebook as it will allow us to improve connectivity, redundancy and resiliency of the MCNC network in western North Carolina," said MCNC President and CEO Jean Davis. "Facebook's efforts to utilize their assets to help the local community is a great model for collaboration."
The first CAIs planned for connection to the new fiber route include four local education agencies (Burke, Elkin, Rutherford, and Wilkes County Schools), four community colleges, three charter schools, the NC School for the Deaf, five health care sites (including two non-profit mental health/substance abuse treatment facilities), five agricultural extension offices, four public safety locations, and the new western campus of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, which is scheduled to open in Morganton in 2021.
"Facebook is looking forward to working with MCNC in this innovative way to connect important institutions that serve western North Carolina," commented Kevin Salvadori, director, network investments at Facebook. "From health care to education, it is thrilling to think of more North Carolina residents living in rural communities benefiting from this connectivity."
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