Broadband infrastructure near completion [The Reidsville Review, N.C.]
(Reidsville Review (NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 04--More of Rockingham County may soon have access to broadband internet coverage, as the Rural Broadband Initiative gets closer to completion.
A partnership between the Golden LEAF Foundation and Microelectronics Center of North Carolina, the Initiative covers the cost of building infrastructure to support high speed internet.
Gretchen Parrish, director of technology support services at Rockingham Community College, said construction on the fiber hut building wrapped last September and backbone transport equipment is installed, but there's still work to be done.
"MCNC has to complete installation of all the conduit and fiber between Wentworth and Henderson, and at the same time, work must be completed from Raleigh back to Henderson, and then from Surry Community College in Dobson to back here in Wentworth," she said.
Once everything is completed, Parrish said RCC will have both increased bandwidth and redundancy beyond anything that's been available to them up to this point.
Golden LEAF President Dan Gerlach said the main goal of the Rural Broadband Initiative is to provide various entities, including schools, libraries and community anchor institutions, with broadband service at a level they need.
"Once the build gets completed, we'll see if this helps private companies to benefit," he said. "Perhaps, some will want to use part of the network to get out to homes and business to increase coverage in Rockingham County."
Gerlach said they're trying to make sure they took advantage of an opportunity to leverage their funds.
"For every $1 we put in, we got $3 more in additional benefit, so that's a very good leverage," he said. "We thought this could really help out a lot of the state. It touches over 70 counties, so that makes it worthwhile."
Golden LEAF awarded the grant in April 2010, to help acquire federal dollars awarded a few months later. He said the fiber network is going at an expected pace with progress on time.
"Our vision is to allow rural counties the same accessibility as urban areas," he said. "This will also help with other grants we've made in the area, including the one for Rockingham County Schools' laptop initiative. The ability to have that kind of high-speed bandwidth going through the county will be very helpful. It will increase educational opportunities and create more opportunities for private businesses and homes to have access to high-speed internet."
Noah Garrett, spokesperson for MCNC, said the fiber network from Henderson to RCC is nearly complete and can start service as soon as they deploy all necessary equipment. He said construction should be complete by late March or April.
The Rural Broadband Initiative is about 96 percent complete, according to a news release. MCNC manages the $144 million expansion of the North Carolina Research and Education Network, which Golden LEAF funded in part with a $24 million grant.
Because of the project, all 58 community colleges in the state now have at least 100 Mbps connections, which is a 34 percent growth in bandwidth over the last year.
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