MCNC announced in August the expansion of its statewide network in southeast North Carolina by connecting communities between Sanford and Farmville in Greene, Harnett, Johnston, and Wayne counties to infrastructure enabled by the Golden LEAF Foundation.
This project received $1,327,130 in support from the Golden LEAF Foundation and will leverage 138 miles of newly-built fiber assets in the area to improve the operation and resiliency of NCREN in the southeast as well as design and construct an additional 18.5 miles of new fiber to fully connect these locations. The total project cost was estimated at $2.5 million.
“MCNC remains focused on delivering the highest-quality connectivity services available to the public sector of North Carolina,” said MCNC President and CEO Jean Davis. “North Carolina is a state of Internet haves and have nots. Once again, with the support of the Golden LEAF Foundation, we are able to reach our important agricultural-based communities and other rural areas of the state that need us the most and close the gap.”
In this grant, MCNC placed emphasis on agriculture by working with NC State University to connect cooperative extension offices along the route as well as the Cherry Research Farm in Goldsboro, which is the site for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) – a joint effort between the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and NC State University – to focus on sustainable agriculture technologies.
MCNC also continues to look at enabling residential connectivity through local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) to expand Internet access in surrounding communities. And, just as in the past, MCNC placed a priority on connecting community anchor institutions in education and health care, including Johnston and Wayne Community Colleges, and Greene, Harnett, Johnston, and Wayne County schools. In total, an estimated 20 locations will be able to receive direct fiber access to NCREN once the project is complete.
Golden LEAF funding for this project comes from revenues generated by the foundation’s support of MCNC’s Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative.
Construction is expected to be complete in early 2020.