Officials break ground to celebrate second round of Broadband Technology Opportunities Program award

Kesha Williams
August 15, 2011


MCNC,  an independent, non-profit organization that employs advanced networking technologies and systems to continuously improve learning and collaboration throughout North Carolina's K20 education,  hosted a statewide virtual groundbreaking on Aug. 12 four locations across North Carolina to celebrate the start of construction of the second round Broadband Technology Opportunities Program award.

This second phase includes the construction of 1,200 miles of broadband infrastructure through northeastern, north-central, northwestern, central and south-central North Carolina. On this day, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Elizabeth City State University, the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis and UNC Pembroke will host simultaneous events linked over NCREN in high Groundbreaking Progress For NC Citizens Multimedia News Background Calendar Vendors-Contractors

MCNC began building the first phase of the 400-mile portion of this infrastructure last fall and is now more than 70 percent complete with this build through southeastern and western North Carolina. Private-sector engineering, construction, technology, and manufacturing companies have received contracts from MCNC to assist ,with this build, and MCNC itself has invested more than $9 million in matching funds and administrative fees to oversee the construction

Over the last two years, MCNC has taken a leadership role in pursuing funding to build a premier network infrastructure for every citizen in North Carolina. The overarching benefit of expanding the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) through the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative is to foster economic development, job creation, and innovation throughout the state.

Beginning in 2009, MCNC, via a request from North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue and with the support of state's congressional delegation, began to pursue funding to build critically-needed broadband infrastructure throughout rural North Carolina. This middle-mile infrastructure would directly serve education institutions, healthcare and public health facilities, public safety needs and libraries. This infrastructure will also be available to private-sector companies who wanted to bring expanded and more affordable broadband services to rural citizens and businesses.

MCNC, with great encouragement and support, was able to raise $40 million in private matching funds and compete for and win two federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grants totaling $104 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The total investment of
$144 million represents one of the largest investments in broadband infrastructure in North Carolina history.