BTOP Progress Reports

MCNC’s BTOP Progress Reports offer you a way to receive up-to-date information on the work to expand NCREN throughout 69 counties in North Carolina. Please contact us if you have questions, feedback, or want to share your own story.

NC in prime position for new broadband economy

By Joe Freddoso, president and CEO of MCNC

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (April 8, 2013) – Last month at the the N.C. Chamber’s 71st annual meeting, a vision for the North Carolina of 2030 was presented.

Since its inception, through many generations of leaders, the chamber has acted as the trailblazer for North Carolina and its citizens. The current version of the chamber under Lew Ebert’s thoughtful guidance is no exception.

Part of the chamber’s 2030 vision involves a focus on North Carolina building and maintaining world-class critical infrastructures.

In past generations water, sewer, power, paved highways/roads, and airports defined critical infrastructure. Access to these amenities improved standards of living, access to education, provided a path to better health care, and enhanced overall quality of life. All of these remain important in 2013 and will likely be important in 2030.

The chamber’s 2030 vision also focuses on broadband infrastructure as critical for North Carolina’s overall prosperity. The work of the private non-profit MCNC on the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI) was highlighted in comments about the plan.

On its own, the GLRBI accomplishes only part of the chamber’s vision for better broadband infrastructure in North Carolina.

First, the GLRBI guarantees for the foreseeable future that students in our K-20 public and most private education institutions, patients in many of our rural hospitals, and researchers at our universities and research institutions will have access to affordable broadband at their place of study or work.

Each of these is served directly by MCNC through the operation of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN). The GLRBI investment will allow us to scale NCREN to the growing broadband needs of these institutions at fixed costs.

For an analogy, think of NCREN as an interstate highway that expands with relative ease to meet increased traffic with little added expense for the institutions connected to the network.

Our public school districts now use 20G of Internet per day, increasing from just 1G only five years ago, and we expect to maintain this pace of demand growth for the next five years. With NCREN, these increases come without increased costs.

To continue the highway analogy, North Carolina still has some work to do on the local roads, but the interstate highway is there. For K-12 public education, when you combine the existence of NCREN with the work of the N.C. General Assembly and the Governor’s Office in upgrading individual school infrastructures, North Carolina has a great foundation for digital learning.

Second, the GLRBI is an open access network. This means that MCNC must make available a large part of the GLRBI infrastructure to existing telecommunications and cable companies to help them provide faster broadband service to more areas of North Carolina than they can reach today.

MCNC will never serve last-mile broadband for businesses and consumers in North Carolina. The GLRBI allows MCNC to supply existing telecommunications and cable companies with access to a key piece of infrastructure that makes it financially feasible to reach more citizens and businesses at higher speeds.

Five last-mile service providers already have signed agreements with MCNC to employ GLRBI fiber. Momentum is picking up.

In addition, MCNC is engaged in numerous conversations with telephone companies, telephone cooperatives, wireless internet companies, cable companies, electric membership cooperatives, and other large enterprises on how they can use the GLRBI fiber to improve access to broadband all over the state.

The GLRBI gives these providers access to fiber between 60 percent and 90 percent less (depending on the location) than the cost to build it on their own – using the GLRBI fiber makes it possible for these providers to deploy better services to more customers throughout the state.

Now is the time for business leaders as well as economic development and policy leaders to think about how their region can work with their service provider community to address some of the missing local roads. The service provider can be a locally-based cooperative or independent telecommunications company, a cable provider, a large national or global telecommunications company, or one of many other types of organizations. These local roads can be wired or wireless, use existing infrastructure or newly-built fiber paths, and can be operated by existing service providers or new market entrants.

The end result is if these local roads are built there will be better broadband access throughout North Carolina. Better broadband access is fundamental in 2013 and will be even more critical in 2030 for accelerated economic development, for better access to education, for improved health care, and for greater economic vitality.

MCNC is ready to help communities and providers develop their strategies and work together to implement them. If we all can work together, North Carolina can add the “Fast Broadband State” to its “Good Roads State” moniker.

NC Chamber - http://www.ncchamber.org

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Is The Broadband Stimulus Working?: February 27, 2012

MCNC

U.S. House of Representatives
House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Hearing
“Is The Broadband Stimulus Working?”
Testimony of
Joe Freddoso
President and CEO
MCNC
February 27, 2013

Thank you Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Eshoo and Members of the Subcommittee for this opportunity to present congressional testimony regarding the successful implementation of broadband stimulus funds in North Carolina. I particularly want to thank Congresswoman Renee Ellmers from MCNC’s home state of North Carolina. She represents the great people of North Carolina’s second congressional district and is a champion of better healthcare, education and access to technology – all benefitting from the investments made by the BTOP program.

For over 25 years, the private non-profit organization that I lead, MCNC, has operated North Carolina’s fiber optic highway of innovation, the North Carolina Research and Education Network or NCREN. While the roots of NCREN are in serving the vast research needs of the 16 universities in the University of North Carolina System, the community of connectors to NCREN has grown the last several years to include connections to more than 450 Community Anchor Institutions, including all of K-20 public education, many private universities, numerous non-profit healthcare providers, and several state and federal research organizations.

These anchor institutions require large amounts of very low latency, high-speed connectivity and collectively their demand for bandwidth doubles every two years.

An example of the growth in demand comes from our North Carolina Community Colleges. Since 2011, the 58 community colleges in North Carolina have reported a 5-fold increase in bandwidth demand, and since 2007 our K-12 public school districts have recorded a 20-fold increase in bandwidth use. Students in our community colleges now directly access and program advanced manufacturing equipment virtually over NCREN to gain current skills needed in the workforce while the colleges avoid having to spend precious capital purchasing these machines.

MCNC has a long history of cooperative work with our incumbent service providers, telephone membership cooperatives, electric membership cooperatives, and independent telecommunications companies in North Carolina. We spend about $9 million per year for local circuits and Internet bandwidth with these providers.

In 2007, in our meetings with our service provider partners, it became evident that NCREN’s need for bandwidth particularly in rural North Carolina was going to outstrip the capacity of the existing middle-mile fiber. There was either no fiber available in certain sections of North Carolina or limited fiber capacity to meet the growing needs of the anchor institutions served by our network. We also found that these service providers, even supported by a proposed $8 million MCNC investment, lacked a business case to build into areas with no fiber or to add fiber capacity to underserved areas.

To serve the needs of the students, healthcare providers and research institutions connected to NCREN, MCNC made the decision to pursue BTOP funds. For matching funds, MCNC allocated $8 million from its capital refresh fund for NCREN. MCNC also raised $4 million from private-sector wholesale service provider FRC, $24 million from North Carolina’s non-profit Golden LEAF Foundation, and $4 million in donated conduit and land. MCNC brought a total of $40 million to the table, and a vision for a statewide network that would bring broadband to some of the most rural, mountainous and difficult areas to reach in the state. Leveraging these matching funds, MCNC applied for and won two rounds of BTOP funding totaling $104 Million.

Today, MCNC is within 50 miles of completing a 2,600 middle mile network. This network is comprised of 1,800 miles of new build fiber and 800 miles of leased fiber. MCNC leased 800 miles of fiber from service providers through long-term contractual arrangements common in the industry that committed this fiber to MCNC’s exclusive use, typically for 20 years. These leases are a tangible demonstration of the solid relationship MCNC enjoys with its service provider partners, and how MCNC was able to leverage local infrastructure into its new statewide broadband network.

The construction phase of the project has given a badly needed infusion of revenue to engineering, construction, optical equipment, and fiber/conduit companies. Our fiber/conduit supply company is CommScope. CommScope is headquartered in Hickory, N.C. When we chose CommScope as our supplier, their conduit plant was idled. During the height of our project, over a two-year period they operated 24/7 with more than 100 workers to keep up with demand. Since our project, CommScope has been awarded business through other BTOP winners and outside of the BTOP program. Keeping these workers employed.

Much of the BTOP fiber is already in use and benefitting 450 Community Anchor institutions served by NCREN and allowing NCREN to serve over 1500 more Community Anchor Institutions. The BTOP award will allow us to scale connectivity to these institutions to the multi-gigabit level as these institutions need additional bandwidth and our sustainability plan will allow this scalability to occur at today’s costs.

Also, MCNC is in discussions with more than 10 wholesale and last-mile service providers interested in the new build fiber. Many are looking to enter areas unavailable to them in the past. Rural broadband is migrating quickly from wired services like DSL to wireless services like WiMAX, Wi-Fi mesh and 4G/LTE as the primary last-mile solution. The commonality in all these over-the-air, last-mile services is the need for fiber-based wireless backhaul and transport services. The BTOP funded fiber is of high interest and likely positions North Carolina to be an early deployment state for these services and a test bed for emerging services.

Mr. Chairman, our story is a great success story. It’s based on leveraging privately-raised matching funds, utilizing existing local infrastructure and attracting BTOP federal investment to build a digital highway that directly supports innovative research, idea formation, equity of access to education, and better healthcare outcomes for rural North Carolinians. Also through partnership, this is a highway that private and public non-profit service providers can use to drive new resources and value into the last mile for our rural citizens.

MCNC owes much of our success to the BTOP staff at the NTIA. Their guiding hand has led to a highly successful broadband investment in rural North Carolina.

Thank you.

BTOP Progress Map

Click here to view the full progress map


GLRBI Update: November 14, 2012

Approximately 90.9 percent of the second phase of the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI) is complete as both construction and deployment efforts have continued at a strong pace into the fall. We are now within 150 miles of having all conduit related to the project installed. Overall, the project has now seen the completion of more than 1,200 miles of conduit installed, execution of Indefeasible Rights of Use (IRU) agreements on 360 miles, and fiber placement of about 920 miles.

Efforts on the Outer Banks have been brisk once tourist season came to an end. On one segment recently released for construction, we are averaging 18,000 feet of placement a day. In the more challenging areas of the north central, placement continues, but at a much slower pace due to the terrain and conditions of the rocky soil. Similar issues on a smaller scale have kept full segments from being completed in the northeast under tricky river crossings, but the nearly 160-mile segment between Henderson and Elizabeth City is within 20 miles of being complete.

ERC, a sub-recipient for the project, has nearly completed their construction efforts in the western part of the state on their portion of the project in McDowell, Avery, Mitchell, and Buncombe counties. Preparations now are being made to deploy equipment in this region.

We have started operating a portion of the fiber along the Charlotte-to-Wilmington corridor. Optical backbone equipment is working between Charlotte and Brunswick and is near completion into Wilmington. Efforts in the northeast from Rocky Mount to Elizabeth City are underway and should be fully deployed by the end of the calendar year.

Deployment efforts to all the community anchor institutions will be in full force starting next year.

As we approach Thanksgiving and holiday season, MCNC is proud and thankful to be in a position to help build out broadband to the citizens of North Carolina in these underserved areas of our state as we prepare to enter 2013.

You can also follow the GLRBI on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


GLRBI Update: September 25, 2012

Visit our Facebook Page and provide your caption to this photo.

As we head in to the fall, we have now entered the last year of the BTOP award period with the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI) now at 80 percent complete in terms of conduit placed and fiber agreements executed.

The overall project now has deployed more than 1,060 miles of conduit, executed Indefeasible Rights of Use (IRU) agreements totaling 357 miles, and deployed 750 miles of fiber within the newly-placed portions of conduit.

The difficult railroad crossing in Monroe that slowed us down a bit in the summer is now behind us, and final fiber placement now is occurring within this region. We also have begun placing equipment on this span between Charlotte and Wilmington, and we expect this entire segment to be in production by end of October. This will be the first major span of the second phase of this project to go into service.

Work also continues to proceed briskly on the Outer Banks and in the northeast regions of the state as we have now started construction leading out of Elizabeth City toward Roanoke Island with continued movement from Henderson toward Elizabeth City.

The project remains on pace for completion by the end of the grant period, with most major activities anticipated to be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2013 as it relates to bringing up individual community anchor institution connections.

You can also follow the GLRBI on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


GLRBI Update: July 31, 2012

Telecommunication Hut placement and installation at Piedmont Community College
Telecommunication Hut placement and installation at Piedmont Community College

Construction on the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative continues to move full steam ahead this summer.

As we are now into the second phase of the GLRBI, the overall project is now roughly 75 percent complete when measured against the number of miles of conduit deployed (922) and IRU's executed (332) of the nearly 1,700 miles forecasted for the project. Within the newly-installed conduit, nearly 586 miles of fiber have been placed.

None of the segments in this phase, however, are fully complete as of today. At least one minor obstacle exists on every span currently under construction, but we anticipate that by end of September many of those will be resolved.

The Charlotte/Wilmington span is complete outside of a railroad bore in Monroe. A similar situation exists between Rocky Mount to Elizabeth City in Williamston. Conduit placement also is complete between Henderson and Reidsville, and we have started working our way down the mountain from Sparta to complete the interconnection of that region in Reidsville. Work also has commenced in the northeast on the Outer Banks as we move out of Henderson toward Elizabeth City. Finally, one of the last major spans (Hamlet to Raleigh) is complete nearly to Wake County.

Fiber deployment to the specific community anchor institutions outlined in the BTOP proposal has commenced, with the first direct service provisioned over BTOP fiber to two libraries in the Rocky Mount area on July 1.

As we enter the last year of the grant period, the project remains slightly ahead of schedule. We anticipate bringing up full backbone segments by October as all equipment is starting to arrive, telecommunication huts around the state have been deployed, and major spans come to completion.

You can also follow the GLRBI on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


GLRBI Update: May 22, 2012

Round 1

Now that the first phase of the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative is complete, we are focusing all efforts on pushing the Round 2 portion of the project closer to completion.

telcommunication huts
Pre-fabricated concrete telecommunication huts establish points of interconnection at strategic locations throughout the state. The one has been installed in Richmond, N.C.

We are happy to report today that we have surpassed 1,000 miles of completeness when measured against formal Indefeasible Rights to Use executed and conduit constructed. Nearly 700 miles of the current overall total are newly-constructed miles of conduit, with approximately 400 miles of fiber now deployed.

Construction efforts continue to be at pace to those outlined in the project plan.

The Charlotte/Wilmington corridor is nearing completion. The Cape Fear River has been bored, and the path along railroad areas in Monroe is nearing completion. We anticipate all fiber to be complete in these areas by end of June and equipment deployment to begin in earnest later this summer.

Construction efforts in the northeast between Rocky Mount and Elizabeth City are complete in regards to conduit, and nearly halfway complete for fiber installation. Efforts in the north-central from Henderson toward Sparta continue to be slow but steady, and we are nearing completion of the segment that runs all the way through the Reidsville area.

As we continue to push our way through the second phase of the project, we will provide more updates.

You can also follow the GLRBI on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


GLRBI Update: April 23, 2012

Round 1

MCNC Twitter Town HallThe first phase of the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI) is complete. To celebrate this achievement, MCNC will host its first online Twitter Town Hall on Friday, April 27, from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. EDT, and will answer questions about this historic project and the expansion of broadband connectivity in North Carolina.

The live event will be available in all Web browsers at www.mcnc.org/btop/townhall.

You can track the conversation in three great ways: Watch the event live at www.mcnc.org/btop/townhall, follow live Tweets from @MCNC or @GLRBI, or search out the hashtag #askMCNC on Twitter.

The first phase of the build encompassed 904 total miles (414 miles of new construction with the rest coming as acquired or IRUs for fiber). The second phase scheduled to be complete in 2013 is 1,700 miles overall, of which 1,338 miles is new construction and 362 miles are coming as IRUs. We look forward to hearing from you at the Twitter Town Hall.

Round 2

We continue to make steady strides in implementation of the Round 2 project. Overall the project has built 595 miles of new conduit, deployed 292 miles of fiber within that conduit, and executed on IRUs for dark fiber of nearly 307 miles.

All the construction on the five bridges in the northeast portion of the state are now complete, ahead of the NCDOT deadline, and marks a major milestone for the second phase of the GLRBI. Those bridges included the Virginia Dare Bridge (U.S. 64 Bypass over Croatan Sound); U.S. 17 over Chowan River; U.S. 94 over Intracoastal Waterway; Washington Baum Bridge (U.S. 64 Bypass over Roanoke Sound); and the Wright Memorial Bridge (U.S. 158 over Currituck Sound).

The Charlotte-to-Wilmington span should be up and operational by mid-summer. Completion of the conduit and fiber system is nearly done outside of a river crossing in Wilmington, and a couple of railroad crossings throughout the span. All these locations are now scheduled out for construction and should be complete in June.

Throughout the footprint of the GLRBI, there are telecommunication huts being deployed to house the key equipment infrastructure. The first seven of these buildings have now been set on the ground, with the remaining planned for completion later this summer.

Equipment ordering for the GLRBI is now underway. Cisco Systems has been selected to provide optical transport and carrier ethernet devices to provide a robust, revolutionary platform for service delivery. The first devices are expected to start arriving in May, with deployment expected to occur soon thereafter.

You can also follow the GLRBI on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


GLRBI Update: March 1, 2012

Round 1

BTOP Round 1 build in eastern North CarolinaWe have now fully completed all aspects of the Round 1 build in eastern North Carolina. All fiber has been placed and spliced, and all equipment has been deployed to light the fiber in this region. This encompasses nearly 200 miles of new fiber to benefit eastern North Carolina.

In the west, we have placed the optical equipment on the path from Asheville to Cullowhee, and we are down to the last two reels for fiber placement on the path from Cashiers to Huntersville. Crossing of the Catawba River near the intersection of the existing network in Huntersville took a substantial amount of time to complete, but we have now punched through to the other side and final placement of cable will be commencing soon. We anticipate having all portions of the western network operational by the middle of March as all equipment currently is being located in the regeneration facilities along the network.

Round 2

Round 2 construction - bridgeIn the Round 2 project, construction progress continues to be steady with more than 450 miles of conduit now complete, which is more than the overall placement in the Round 1 project – but only about one-third of the miles to be built in this second phase.

The conduit for the Charlotte-to-Wilmington segment is nearly complete, and we now have more than 120 miles of fiber placed. Construction continues from Hamlet towards Sanford, with approximately 75 percent of the conduit now in place. We have commenced construction in the north-central portion of the network in the Reidsville area back towards Roxboro, and we expect to begin the segment from Roxboro toward Henderson in the coming weeks. In the northeast, bridge construction is nearing completion as the conduit installation on the Virginia Dare, Washington Baum, and Wright Memorial bridges are almost finished. Only two shorter bridges in the mainland Outer Banks area will remain once those three are complete. In addition, construction between Williamston and Elizabeth City is now at full bore.

You can also follow the GLRBI on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


GLRBI Update: December 22, 2011

Round 1

Virtually all conduits have been placed in the Round 1 project. Mostly couplings of finalized conduit remain to be completed. Approximately 303 miles of fiber have been placed in the 414 miles of conduit that has been fully-proofed and completed to date, and fiber placement continues daily. All conduit and fiber should be in place by the end of January – one year in advance of the project deadline. Efforts to light the remaining fiber will begin in earnest in late January and early February.

Virtually all the conduit has been placed in the Round 1 project. Mostly couplings of finalized conduit remain to be completed. Approximately 303 miles of fiber has been put into place and fiber placement continues daily. All conduit and fiber should be in place by the end of January. The routes from Rocky Mount to Greenville and Winston Salem to Asheville already have been placed into service and the increased bandwidth is benefitting the users of NCREN. Other sections are being placed into service each month, and by March, all sections of Round 1 fiber should be operational.

In the east, crews are finalizing the conduit in the Pitt County area heading toward New Bern. The crews also are continuing placement of fiber from New Bern to Morehead City, with all fiber from Morehead City to Wilmington now spliced and complete.

In the west, the remaining fiber to be placed between Asheville and Cullowhee is drawing to completion. Balsam West has finished a segment of the build between Sylva and Cullowhee, and efforts now will begin the splicing of the completed fibers segments with equipment deployment expected sometime in January. The remaining conduit/fiber placement on the Hendersonville-to-Huntersville portions will continue in January.

Round 2

The progress on conduit placement between Charlotte and Wilmington remains swift, with more than 85 percent of the 256 miles now in place. Approximately 36 miles of fiber also has been deployed along that route. Construction between Rocky Mount and Williamston is drawing toward completion, and the groundbreaking for the first planned telecommunication huts in Polkton at South Piedmont Community College has commenced (see photos below).

MCNC GLRBI field constructionMCNC GLRBI field construction photo

As we enter 2012, we will begin in earnest on construction of the segment from Hamlet to Sanford as well as start further activity in the northeast while finishing up work in the south-central portion of the network. Next year will be a big year for Round 2, so please continue to check our map to track the progress of construction for this next phase of the GLRBI.

You can also follow the GLRBI on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


GLRBI Update: November 30, 2011

Round 1

Progress continues to be slow but steady. Overall, we have 410 miles of the 414 engineered path/conduit miles complete, with 272 miles of fiber placed. The remaining miles will continue to be slow going as they are in the Saluda Mountain area in the western part of the state.

On extremely positive notes, we have finished the Trent River bore in New Bern, which involved the placement of a 4-inch steel pipe under the river more than 2,400 feet in length. This was the last major hurdle in the east as we head toward completion in that region.

MCNC GLRBI field constructionMCNC GLRBI field construction photo

We have a few final details to complete before we can call the segment from Asheville-to-Cullowhee complete. However, we still are pushing our contractors to finish all construction by end of December so we can fully operate all paths by the end of January and early February.

Please keep checking our online maps showing the progress of this phase of the project.

Round 2

Construction between Charlotte and Wilmington continues to be swift, with all five predefined sub-segments along that route now either complete or under active construction. In total, 168 conduit miles of the 256 miles associated with this path are now in the ground, amounting to 66 percent of this segment complete.

We also have started the push from Rocky Mount towards the coast, with 30 of the 47 miles of that path to Williamston complete. In total, we have completed 258 of 1,332 planned conduit miles, with 438 fiber/conduit miles of the 1,694 miles project accounted for via complete IRU dark fiber arrangements or completed builds (roughly 26 percent of the approved project).

In December, we will start the process of installing 15 miles of fiber on bridges in the northeast while continuing to work in that area toward Elizabeth City and the Outer Banks. We also will aim to complete the route from Charlotte to Wilmington with the expectation of also starting on the Hamlet-to-Raleigh path.

Please continue to check our BTOP Round 2 online maps to track the progress of construction.

You can also follow the GLRBI on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


GLRBI Update: October 13, 2011

Round 1

Overall, the project now sits at about 402 miles of conduit deployed, with 218 miles of fiber deployed. We remain poised to have all fiber in position by the end of the calendar year –approximately one year ahead of project deadline.

In the west, we have now put in to service the equipment between the existing NCREN core in Mocksville all the way to Asheville. This creates 10gig of IP service into the Hickory and Asheville markets for NCREN users. Construction progress remains steady but has been slowed over the past few months as we have started working through some rocky terrain leaving Hendersonville into the Saluda Mountain area.

Remember to keep checking our online maps showing the progress as the conduit/fiber is placed or acquired and ultimately put in to service.

Round 2

Construction continues to ramp up as more encroachment permits clear with NCDOT. We anticipate that all three primary construction firms on the Round 2 project to have segments totaling 200 miles under active construction by the end of the month. Those routes are in the Charlotte-to-Whiteville regions in the south central, and Rocky Mount-to-Williamston in the northeast. To date, we've deployed about 72 miles of conduit related to the project.

Also, we currently are interviewing finalists for the bridge construction contract on the Outer Banks, and expect to begin construction here by the end of the calendar year. Finally, the equipment selection process is proceeding as well, with Proof of Concept Labs being planned with equipment vendors who are considered finalists.

Please continue to check our BTOP Round 2 online maps to track the progress of construction.

You can also follow the GLRBI on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


GLRBI Update: August 29, 2011

Round 1

Overall on Round 1, we now have 367 miles of conduit placed and 178 miles of fiber.

We also are pleased to announce that the first segment of fiber built from the ground up has been placed into service as of Aug. 26. This is for working service between Rocky Mount and Greenville with more than 50 miles of new construction. Our contractors and internal team did a fantastic job of getting this path constructed and implemented so it could be in place and active for the start of the fall school semester. We expect to be lighting the segments to Asheville and the west sometime in September.

Remember to keep checking our online maps showing the progress as the conduit/fiber is placed or acquired and ultimately put in to service.

Round 2

Our crews working out of Charlotte have made a good showing in a congested area and have more than 15 miles of conduit now in place, and now the first mile of fiber. We also continue to work on securing more permits to get more segments of construction under way.

We now have our BTOP Round 2 online construction graphs up and running like Round 1. Keep checking this resource to track the progress of construction.

You can also follow the GLRBI on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


GLRBI Update: July 27, 2011

Round 1

Snapshot: Heat is the word of the month. Our contractors continue to work hard through humid July heat with approximately 340 miles of the conduit now placed as well as a total of 150 miles of fiber now installed overall. Remember to keep checking our online maps showing the progress as the conduit/fiber is placed or acquired and ultimately put in to service.

Eastern North Carolina
In the east, construction continues on the path into Greenville. We remain optimistic that we will be able to place this path into service no later than the end of August. Other activities in the east continue in the Jacksonville to Morehead City area.

Western North Carolina
In the west, all fiber leading into Asheville is installed, spliced, and ready to go. We have started the process of deploying the equipment to place this area into service, which will take between two and three weeks to complete. We expect live traffic on the fiber to Asheville by end of August barring any unforeseen problems. We also have started the placement of fiber from Enka toward Sylva as the conduit construction nears an end, and construction on the southern portions of the western build continues.

Round 2

Snapshot: We have the first 2 miles in the ground in the downtown area of Charlotte moving toward the east. As with Round 1, ramp up time to full construction will be slow going as we continue to secure all the required permits. The official groundbreaking for Round 2 is set for Aug. 12.

You can also follow the GLRBI on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


GLRBI Update: July 5, 2011

Round 1

Snapshot: Overall, approximately 311 miles of conduit now has been placed for the project. Remember to keep checking our online maps showing the progress as the conduit/fiber is placed or acquired and ultimately put in to service.

Eastern North Carolina
In the east, we are closing in on completion of the Rocky Mount to Greenville segment with most fiber in place and construction in downtown area starting soon. We hope to light that span by August. Work east of Greenville also continues at swift pace.

Western North Carolina
In the west, all fiber is now in place between Asheville and Old Fort, and splicing efforts on that span are commencing. Most of the fiber will be in place from Hickory/Lenoir by end of July, so we still are on target to light that span sometime in August.

Round 2

Snapshot: Round 2 construction efforts should begin by mid-July on a limited basis in Charlotte as we begin mobilizing more crews there. The official groundbreaking for Round 2 is set for Aug. 12.

You can also follow the GLRBI on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


GLRBI Round 1 & Round 2 Update: May 24, 2011

Round 1

Snapshot: Overall, approximately 251 miles of conduit now has been placed, with 61 miles of fiber installed within that conduit. The pace of work remains at a swift pace with some tricky portions of the project now complete. Remember to keep checking our online maps showing the progress as the conduit/fiber is placed or acquired and ultimately put in to service.

Eastern North Carolina
Fiber installation between Jacksonville and Wilmington is nearly complete and splicing has started. Approximately 42 of the 52 miles of conduit are in place on the Rocky Mount to Greenville segment (81 percent). Progress remains steady from Jacksonville to Morehead City and picking up steam as all crews that were working on the Jacksonville-to-Wilmington segment have now been relocated to this area to help work move along even faster.

Western North Carolina
We are pleased to report the tricky Lake Hickory crossing is now complete. The steel casing is in place and conduit crews will be returning to install the inner duct. Fiber placement has commenced now on the Hickory-to-Lenoir segment with the river bore now complete. Much of Asheville-to-Old Fort section is finished with a few thousand feet remaining on Old Fort Mountain. We anticipate being able to place fiber in this area by the end of June. Approximately 77 percent of the Enka-Sylva conduit also is in place. Finally, the southern portion of the western build is proceeding nicely. On the Hendersonville-to-Shelby segment, 35 percent is complete, and 62 percent is now complete between Shelby to Huntersville.

Round 2

Snapshot: We are happy to announce that we have submitted what we hope to be a final draft Environmental Assessment to the NTIA for review on Friday, May 20. We hope to have good news by early June so we can proceed on finalizing the construction plans for this next phase.

You can also follow the GLRBI on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.


GLRBI Round 1 & Round 2 Update: May 11, 2011

Round 1

Snapshot: Overall, We've passed another milestone for the project. More than 50 percent of the conduit has been placed in the ground with more than 217 miles now placed as of May 10. It promises to be a busy summer with the completion of several spans and what we hope will be the operation of spans into Asheville and Greenville when the fiber is completed. Each week presents a different opportunity for our contractors and staff to display their nimbleness in completing this project. Last week it was alligators in the east guarding the right of way! Remember to keep checking our online maps showing the progress as the conduit/fiber is placed or acquired and ultimately put in to service.

Eastern North Carolina
Fiber is now being placed in the completed conduit between Jacksonville and Wilmington with the placement of five reels of fiber having occurred, representing almost 31 miles of the route. Once all cable is placed, splicing will commence. A few more final permits are required from the City of Greenville as construction continues toward completion in that area. Almost 60 percent of that route is now complete. All segments have been released for construction at this point, and crews are firmly focused on the routes between Rocky Mount to Greenville and Jacksonville to Morehead City.

Western North Carolina
All segments in the west are now complete or underway. The prime contractor overseeing this region, which contains many obstacles, is pacing the delivery of the finished project with 112 miles of conduit placed out of the 196 they have to install. The river bore in Hickory continues, and has been their greatest challenge to date. Bores from the north and south side are now 5 feet apart, and the effort to join them now begins. MCNC representatives were on site to view first hand this difficult installation this week. The contractor is confident that completion of the bore is in sight. Also, fiber placement on the Lenoir-to-Hickory span has commenced. Construction to Asheville from Old Fort is nearly complete. Equipment to light the span is expected to be received by mid-to-late June, which should correspond nicely when fiber splicing is expected to be complete all the way from Mocksville to Asheville.

Round 2

Snapshot: Resubmission of the Environmental Assessment draft is expected this week. MCNC and its team of contractors held a kick-off meeting in Hickory this week to begin formalizing plans to start construction as soon as we receive environmental and NCDOT clearance to start. The hope is to be in production mode no later than mid-to-late June.

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GLRBI Round 1 & Round 2 Update: April 14, 2011

Round 1

Snapshot: Overall, we are at 150 miles of conduit installed or approximately 36 percent of the entire Round 1 project. Nine of the 11 identified segments for this phase are complete or under active installation, with the last two segments slated to start within the next four-to-six weeks. One day last week, we had more than 150 workers representing us in the field. Actual fiber has started to be installed on a couple of the spans. Remember to keep checking our online maps showing the progress as the conduit/fiber is placed or acquired and ultimately put in to service.

Eastern North Carolina
Work continues to move quickly on the Jacksonville-to-Morehead City segment. We now have 11 miles of conduit in the ground in this area with work close to beginning in Carteret County. Jacksonville to Wilmington is mostly complete, with a bit of work remaining to finish in New Hanover County. Fiber also is starting to be placed on the northern most sections of this route. We are closing in on final permitting requirements for the Rocky Mount-to-Greenville section, which will allow us to pick up the construction pace. Work also has started from Greenville to New Bern with quite a bit of activity in Craven County right now with 6 miles now in place.

Western North Carolina
We have finalized an agreement with Balsam West for a portion of the network from Sylva to Cullowhee and expect closure with a private-fiber owner from Cullowhee to Cashiers soon to complete a 38-mile area of the network. Work on the Lake Hickory crossing continues. The installation has been tricky as the workers are drilling under the river bed through solid blue granite! Contractors say they hope to finish through that area within the next two weeks. Asheville to Old Fort continues to make good progress, and we now are working on Old Fort Mountain. Only about 5 miles of conduit remain to be installed at which time we will begin pulling fiber through. Equipment is starting to arrive to light this segment later this summer. Enka to Sylva is seeing good progress as well, and we have now started Huntersville to Shelby.

Round 2

Snapshot: We have selected our construction contractors for Round 2. We expect to begin construction activities in June if we received our environmental clearance in May. Encroachment agreements now are being applied for with NC DOT. With our materials vendor lined up and ready and construction contractors secured, we should be in good shape to start work as soon as we get the environmental clearance.

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GLRBI Round 1 & Round 2 Update: March 29, 2011

Round 1

Snapshot: Overall, we have now passed 115 miles of conduit in the ground. The weather this week will pose a challenge, but we're hopeful to continue making strong strides in construction.

Eastern North Carolina
Work on the segment from Jacksonville to Morehead City is underway – the first two miles are now complete. We are nearing actual placement of fiber in the next two weeks on the Jacksonville to Wilmington portion, depending on weather. We also are close to finalizing all permits between Rocky Mount and Greenville, which will allow a stronger work force toward completion. Greenville to New Bern construction efforts also will start in earnest within the next week.

Western North Carolina
We have successfully negotiated an IRU (Indefeasible Right to Use) of newly-built fiber between Cashiers and Hendersonville with Morris Broadband, which is a significant milestone. This route was going to be a difficult build, but we fostered a good relationship with Morris Broadband as the incumbent to leverage their new infrastructure. This is a great example of how the stimulus is helping incumbent service providers. The bore at Lake Hickory has started on the Hickory to Lenoir segment, which is the last portion of that route to be complete. The Asheville to Old Fort section is drawing toward completion with only the Tunnel area of Asheville and Old Fort Mountain components for conduit installation left to complete.

Round 2

Snapshot: We have received comments back on our draft environmental assessment. We're in process of reviewing and working to re-submit in late April. We appear to be lining up towards a late May, early June start to construction on Round 2.

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GLRBI Round 1 & Round 2 Update: March 7, 2011

Round 1

Snapshot: The last two weeks have seen much activity with almost 85 miles of conduit complete now. This represents more than 20 percent of the overall construction for Round 1. Even more segments will begin construction in the next four to six weeks as final permits start to come in from appropriate agencies. We are also in the final stages of getting the U.S. Forest Service permit to cross the Pisgah National Forest on Old Fort Mountain.

Eastern North Carolina
Construction is expected to start in the next month on the segment from Jacksonville to Morehead City. We will be using the same crews that have done such a fabulous job on the Jacksonville to Wilmington segment, with more than 80 percent of that segment now complete.

Western North Carolina
The Asheville to Old Fort path is now more than half complete. Mobilization efforts took longer than expected on the Enka-to-Sylva segment, but locates have started to happen and construction will soon follow. We are looking forward to starting construction on this segment soon.

Round 2

Snapshot: CommScope, Inc. has been selected as the fiber materials vendor for Round 2. Their first round assistance to the project has been valuable, and we look forward to continuing the relationship in Round 2. NTIA review of the environmental assessment draft continues, and we hope to have comment back soon with construction anticipated to begin in May. The construction RFP has closed with some good responses received; those are still under review with a vendor announcement expected soon.

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GLRBI Round 1 & Round 2 Update: February 22, 2011

Round 1

Snapshot: Wonderful weather over the last week has kept the project moving at a brisk pace. We now are up to 67 miles complete – representing about 16 percent of the overall project. We also continue to finalize remaining permits and encroachments so we can get more segments under construction soon.

Eastern North Carolina
In the east, workers on the Jacksonville-to-Wilmington segment continue to impress. More than 26,000 feet was placed on this segment last week. Encroachment agreements have been received in Wilson County so that construction can continue on the E1 from Rocky Mount toward Greenville.

Western North Carolina
In the west, a determined crew continues working in Buncombe County toward Asheville as final permits are being obtained from the U.S. Forest Service for the Old Fort Mountain crossing in McDowell County. The Lake Hickory crossing is expected to start by the end of week, and construction on the Enka-to-Sylva segment will begin in earnest on March 1.

Round 2

Snapshot: We expect to name a materials vendor for the second round within the next two weeks, which is about the same time the construction RFP closes on Feb. 28. We are awaiting a response from the draft environmental assessment submitted to the NTIA on Feb. 1 as we continue to work through the permitting process with N.C. Department of Transportation and other agencies.

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GLRBI Round 1 & Round 2 Update: February 15, 2011

Round 1

Snapshot: Weather last week slowed us up a bit, but hopefully we'll catch up this week with better weather in the forecast. Overall, we have approximately 59 miles of conduit in the ground (these reports are based on conduit placed as opposed to fiber miles). Fiber is generally one of the last work steps completed, and only takes a fraction of the time of physical conduit installation.

Eastern North Carolina
Work continues on Rocky Mount to Greenville with approximately 5 miles of the total 52-mile segment now complete. The Jacksonville to Wilmington portion continues to move swiftly with 25 of the 46 miles now in place. We also expect to initiate a notice for contractors to proceed with the Morehead City to Jacksonville segment within the next two weeks.

Western North Carolina
In the west, work on the Hickory to Lenoir segment is nearing completion, with essentially all that remains being the tricky Lake Hickory crossing. Construction on the Asheville to Old Fort segment is picking up steam, with approximately 4 miles complete on this challenging 26-mile segment. Also, final preparations on locates and materials continue for the start of the Enka to Sylva segment.

Round 2

Snapshot: Engineering and design work continues on the overall project as we await initial feedback from the NTIA on the environmental assessment draft. We cleared a major hurdle last week with concurrence from the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office of no negative impact of the project. We are nearing selection of a materials vendor and the construction RFP currently open will close on Feb. 28.


GLRBI Round 1 & Round 2 Update: February 7, 2011

Round 1

Snapshot: Weather has slowed work down a bit, but as of today, more than 10 percent of planned conduit construction has now been completed over the entire Round 1 footprint (approximately 42 miles).

Eastern North Carolina
In the east, crews are working in and out of Rocky Mount and work continues on the Jacksonville to Wilmington span. About 45 percent of that segment is now complete.

Western North Carolina
Lenoir/Hickory construction continues with a river bore crew starting work next Friday which will be the last major activity on this section. Activities in Asheville will be starting full scale this week, and we are gearing up to start the Enka-to-Sylva construction route within the next two to three weeks.

Round 2

Snapshot: The environmental assessment was submitted to the NTIA for review on 2/1.


GLRBI Round 1 Update: February 1, 2011

Snapshot: Approximately 38 miles of the total 407 miles of the overall project are complete.

Eastern North Carolina
In the east, work is about one-third of the way through Jacksonville/Wilmington. Construction has commenced between Rocky Mount and Wilson, with the first mile completed last week.

Western North Carolina
Crews in the west are about three-quarters of the way done between Lenoir and Hickory. Construction starts in earnest in Asheville this week back toward Old Fort Mountain while final permitting is completed there with the U.S. Forest Service.


GLRBI Round 1 Update: January 24, 2011

Snapshot: Approximately 26 miles of the total 407 miles of the overall project are complete.

Eastern North Carolina
Crews are working on the Jacksonville to Wilmington segment. Approximately 12 miles completed on this 45 mile planned stretch. Work is expected to start this week on Rocky Mount to Wilson.

Western North Carolina
Crews pushing out of Hickory toward Lenoir. About 7 miles of the 20 to be built on this section are completed. Work is expected to start in the next two weeks on Asheville to Old Fort.

Special notes: Raleigh to Wilmington fiber has been lit and is operational. Expecting to place production service on first 10G IP segment this week.


GLRBI Round 1 Update: January 20, 2011

Snapshot: Approximately 20 miles of the total 407 miles to be constructed are complete.

Eastern North Carolina
Crews currently are working in Jacksonville pushing toward Wilmington. Approximately 10 miles have been completed in this area.

Western North Carolina
Crews currently are working in Hickory pushing toward Lenoir. Seven miles previously completed in Mocksville and almost four now in Hickory.

Special notes: Working on lighting and operating the fiber from RTP to Wilmington.