Friday, October 8, 2010

Governor Perdue Breaks Ground for North Carolina's MCNC Stimulus Funded Fiber Network 10/08/2010 San Francisco - North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue (D-NC) at this hour is presiding over a ground breaking ceremony in Hickory that launches construction of the stimulus funded North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN). Perdue is being joined by other state and federal officials at the headquarters of  CommScope, Inc. (NYSE: CTV) for the event. NCREN, operated by the non-profit MCNC, is one of the largest recipients of broadband stimulus funds in the nation.  

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue (D-NC)
“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.”

Over the 2 funding rounds of the federal broadband stimulus program, MCNC, headed by North Carolina tech sector veteran Joe Freddroso, has won a total of $104 million in middle mile grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce. MCNC won $28.2 million in funding in Round 1, and $75.5 million in Round 2. The NCREN expansion project is slated to create jobs in these regions and bring critical broadband infrastructure to 37 counties in the state, according to a MCNC press release issued at the start of the event.

MCNC's August Vendor Proposal Round
MCNC announced today that three companies have been selected to share an estimated $20 million for construction related to the expansion of the NCREN.  A fourth company was chosen for an additional $1.8 million contract for the optical design portion of the project. A fourth company was chosen for an additional $1.8 million contract for the optical design portion of the project.

As we reported in early September, CommScope which is hosting today's event, was previously awarded a major portion of the supply contract for optical fiber cable for the NCREN stimulus-financed build. Middle mile fiber projects like NCREN comprise the largest segment of the total $6.9 billion awarded under the federal program ($302 million was removed by Congress in August from the initial $7.2 billion appropriation), for everything from state broadband mapping projects to terrestrial and wireless telecom infrastructure. CommScope and the other domestic fiber producers will lead the telecom sector as those firms most benefiting from this portion of the stimulus package.  

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. Fiber Technologies specializes in the construction of aerial and underground fiber optic telecommunications networks for local exchange carriers,

Globe Communications, LLC, a specialized utility contractor providing a variety of services to the cable television, power and telecommunications industry, 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 Technical Services, LLC of Hildebran, NC was selected for all fiber splicing related to this portion of the project, and Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCOhas been chosen for the optical design portion of the project.

Perdue, as we have previously reported, was a strong advocate for the educational value of NCREN when she served as Lieutenant Governor of the Tar Heel State.  Now in her first term as chief executive, she has joined a select few of other Democratic governors in leading the national broadband stimulus tally with big dollar total awards for state network projects.  
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