MCNC

Building a Sustainable Middle Mile Network for Underserved Rural North Carolina

Building a Sustainable Middle-Mile Network for Underserved Rural North Carolina proposes to build a 494-mile, middle-mile broadband network serving almost one half the population of North Carolina in 37 counties. The new fiber network proposes to increase the existing bandwidth by 10 to 20 times in underserved areas and will connect to 685 miles of existing infrastructure in the urbanized central region of the state, expanding the reach of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCERN). Currently, NCREN provides backbone and ISP services to community anchor institutions including the entire public University of North Carolina system, all public K-12 schools in the state, a majority of the independent colleges and universities and 20 of the 58 institutions in the North Carolina Community College System. This project will both provide better and more reliable connections for rural education and community support organizations already on NCREN, and create better connectivity for anchor institutions that are not part of NCREN, such as rural libraries, not-for-profit hospitals, and county-operated free health-care clinics. This would allow for expanded use of distance learning, telehealth services, electronic medical-records sharing, and smart-grid technology.

Total Award: 
$28,225,518
BTOP In Action
A plowing and trenching crew installs fiber in a wooded area.

North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue left an MCNC-sponsored groundbreaking on October 8, 2010, with a unique keepsake: a plaque featuring the first optical fiber cable manufactured to support the state’s BTOP projects.

Manufactured at a North Carolina plant, the cable symbolized both the broadband improvements to come from the project and its economic benefits. MCNC estimates that the project will create more than 1,000 temporary engineering and construction jobs as well as approximately 10 permanent jobs to manage the fiber infrastructure expansion.

As of June 2013, MCNC deployed or upgraded 1,690 total miles of fiber in rural areas across North Carolina. The Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative, funded by two BTOP grants, is an expansion of MCNC’s North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) that serves the entire public University of North Carolina system, all public K-12 schools in the state, a majority of the independent colleges and universities, and 20 of the 58 institutions in the North Carolina Community College System. MCNC aims to build a broadband infrastructure network that can scale for the future. The network will deliver speeds that will provide faster and more reliable connections for K-12 schools, colleges, and universities already on the network.

The NCREN is fulfilling growing bandwidth requirements of educational institutions, from faster speeds for students that need to download assignments to transporting large data between universities and research institutions. As a result of NTIA’s broadband investments in North Carolina, MCNC is working to ensure that 100 percent of schools in the state have 100 Mbps or greater connections and receive Internet access at a savings of 60 percent over retail rates. Joe Freddoso, MCNC president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said, “MCNC has built a network that will scale to the future to help all North Carolinians become better educated, healthier, more innovative, and otherwise thrive in the digital age.”

Reports and Documents
Environmental Documents:
Award Documents

BTOP in Action

An interpreter signs on camera at a studio at the Deaf Action Center. Deaf Action Center of Louisiana

The Deaf Action Center of Louisiana installed new videoconferencing stations and enhanced the...

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