MCNC ready to begin construction on NCREN fiber-optic expansion

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Companies selected today for initial build-out of the
North Carolina Research and Education Network

Editorial Contact: Noah Garrett: (252) 423.1277 or press@mcnc.org


HICKORY, N.C. (Oct. 8, 2010) – MCNC announced today that three companies have been selected to share an estimated $20 million for construction related to the fiber-optic expansion of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) in southeastern and western North Carolina. A fourth company was chosen for an additional $1.8 million contract for the optical design portion of the project.

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue joined other state and federal officials at CommScope in Hickory for a groundbreaking ceremony that highlighted the kick-off of MCNC’s initial phase of expanding NCREN. This project will create jobs in these regions and bring critical broadband infrastructure to 37 counties in the state.

“We are embarking on a public-private partnership that will literally change the way North Carolina communicates with the rest of the world,” Gov. Perdue said. “From the mountains to the coast, broadband access is a difference-maker for rural North Carolina. And, it’s a great example of how our state is leading America’s recovery.”

MCNC sought proposals from qualified contractors in August to construct a new fiber-cable network to connect community anchor institutions (universities, community colleges, schools, libraries, county offices and more) to a statewide fiber-optic network.

For segments in the west, a contract was awarded to Fiber Technologies, Inc., a Quanta Services company (NYSE: PWR). Under the agreement, Fiber Technologies will install approximately 200 miles of fiber in the west that includes segments from Hickory to Lenoir, Asheville to Old Fort, Enka to Sylva, and Hendersonville to Huntersville.

Globe Communications was chosen for segments in the east that includes about 220 miles starting in Rocky Mount and running through Greenville, New Bern, Morehead City, and Jacksonville before ending in Wilmington.

Comtech was selected for all fiber splicing related to this portion of the project, and Cisco Systems has been chosen for the optical design portion of the project.

This project is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). MCNC was awarded $28.2 million through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) in January to fund the engineering and construction of approximately 500 miles of new fiber to expand the optical footprint of NCREN in southeastern and western North Carolina. MCNC raised $11.7 million in matching funds for its successful application through private sources, including $4 million from the MCNC endowment, making the total project a $40 million investment in broadband infrastructure. No state tax dollars were used to fund this project.

The U.S. Department of Commerce also awarded $75.75 million in August in a second round of funding to support the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI). The Golden LEAF Foundation Board of Directors awarded $24 million in matching funds for the Round 2 grant. An additional $5.25 million in match was raised from the MCNC endowment, donations of land from individual community colleges and universities, and a donation of already-installed conduit in northeastern North Carolina from the Albemarle Pamlico Economic Development Corporation. This award builds on MCNC’s Round 1 BTOP award to where North Carolina now will benefit from more than $140 million to expand high-speed connectivity in rural unserved and underserved portions of the state. Requests for Proposals and other announcements associated with GLRBI are forthcoming.

Both of MCNC’s awards are a part of a coordinated strategy developed by the Office of the Governor, the N.C. Office of Economic Recovery & Investment and eNC, the state’s rural broadband authority, to improve broadband access for businesses and residents in underserved areas. Once all work is complete, NCREN has the potential to serve more than 1,500 anchor institutions, 180,000 businesses, and reach more than 300,000 underserved families.

To learn more on the impacts this will have in N.C., watch our video: https://www.mcnc.org/btop/video/oct-2010.

About Cisco Systems

Cisco, (NASDAQ: CSCO), the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, this year celebrates 25 years of technology innovation, operational excellence and corporate social responsibility. Cisco operates its second largest site in the United States in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. Information on Cisco can be found at http://www.cisco.com. For ongoing news, please go to http://newsroom.cisco.com.

About Comtech

Comtech Technical Services, LLC is a contractor specializing in fiber optics including fusion splicing and various forms of connectors. The company provides services to various cable television companies, power, private corporations and government agencies. Comtech Technical Services, LLC was founded in Hildebran, NC in 2008 and has a vast coverage area throughout the eastern part of the United States.

About Fiber Technologies and Quanta Services, Inc.

Fiber Technologies, a Quanta Services company (NYSE: PWR), specializes in the construction of aerial and underground fiber optic telecommunications networks for local exchange carriers, municipalities and cable television companies and has more than 35 years of experience in the telecommunications construction industry. Quanta Services is a leading specialized contracting services company, delivering infrastructure solutions for the electric power, natural gas and pipeline and telecommunication industries. With operations throughout North America, Quanta has the manpower, resources and expertise to complete projects that are local, regional, national or international in scope.

About Globe Communications

Globe Communications, LLC is a specialized utility contractor providing a variety of services to the cable television, power and telecommunications industry as well as government agencies, private corporations and colleges/universities. These services include engineering, design, installation, and maintenance for all phases of inside and outside voice, video and data networks. The company was founded in Durham, NC in 1964 and provides services throughout the Eastern US.