MCNC Selects Contractors for Round 2 of Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative

April 13, 2011

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., April 13, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — MCNC and its northwestern North Carolina project sub-recipient ERC Broadband (ERC), announced today that three companies have been selected to construct 1,200 miles of new fiber optics as part of the second phase expansion of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN). The construction award shared by these vendors is estimated at $40 million. The entire expansion of NCREN, called the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI), has an estimated project cost of approximately $146 million.

Three experienced fiber optic construction firms (Globe Communications, Fiber Technologies, and Edwards Telecommunications) were selected for this second phase of the project. Three vendors are required for this phase of the project because of the size and scope – nearly four-times larger than Round 1. Each vendor demonstrated during the competitive bid process the necessary experience and qualifications to help complete the overall project by July 2013.

Edwards Telecommunications is a full-service telecommunications contractor based in Columbia, S.C. Fiber Technologies, a Quanta Services Company, is based in Loganville, Ga., with more than 35 years of telecommunications construction experience. Fiber Tech also was selected by MCNC for Round 1 construction and currently is working on about 200 miles of fiber installation in western North Carolina. Globe Communications in Durham also was chosen for work in Round 1 and is currently building segments totaling about 220 miles in southeastern North Carolina.

MCNC began seeking proposals from qualified construction and splicing contractors for Round 2 in January 2011. The total second phase project cost of $106 million was funded by two sources. A federal grant of $75.75 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) awarded to MCNC in August 2010. This federal investment was matched by $31.25 million in privately-raised funds including $24 million from the Golden LEAF Foundation. The majority of the project funds will be spent with private-sector engineering, construction, materials, and technology companies who will assist with the build.

Overall, the GLRBI includes more than 2,000 miles of new and/or acquired fiber to be outfitted through 69 counties in North Carolina. Currently, more than 140 miles of conduit for Round 1 has been installed in southeastern and western North Carolina. The Round 1 build encompasses construction of 407 miles of high-speed “middle-mile” broadband infrastructure in 37 counties. This second phase includes approximately 1,200 miles of new fiber to be installed.

The GLRBI requires vendors to construct a new fiber cable network that connects universities, community colleges, schools, health and safety facilities, libraries, county offices, and other community anchor institutions to a statewide fiber optic network. The construction encompasses seven routes in North Carolina. Each vendor will be assigned a specific segment to start. The overall amount of work eventually assigned to each vendor will be based on performance.

The following segments have been identified in North Carolina for Round 2 construction and include these approximate route miles: North Central (203.9 miles); Outer Banks (243.3 miles); Northeast (282.8 miles); South Central (238.7 miles); Central (113.5 miles); Northwest (50 miles); and Graham (18 miles). The Graham portion will be awarded at a later date. All construction must be completed in accordance to federal guidelines and finished by Jan. 31, 2013 to allow MCNC time to equip and place the fiber optic into service on or before July 31, 2013. This new network has the potential to serve more than 1,500 anchor institutions, 180,000 businesses, and more than 300,000 underserved families statewide.

In early March, MCNC announced that CommScope, Inc. of Hickory, N.C. was selected to provide all the necessary materials for the second phase of the project. They also were chosen for Round 1. Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. of Raleigh, N.C. was selected in October 2010 as the lead engineering firm for the Round 2 project.

In evaluating the Round 2 construction bid responses and for all other requests for proposals, MCNC has worked with the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development (NCIMED) in Durham to identify companies who qualify as small, disadvantaged and minority-owned businesses. NCIMED has been advising MCNC on BTOP-related opportunities for several months and will continue to work with MCNC to make businesses throughout the state aware of BTOP-related opportunities.

The GLRBI’s Environmental Assessment currently is under review with construction expected to start in June.

About MCNC

MCNC is an independent, non-profit organization that employs advanced Internet networking technologies and systems to continuously improve learning and collaboration throughout North Carolina’s K-20 education community. MCNC provides advanced communications technologies and support services that enable access to 21st century learning applications and offers the opportunity to improve teaching, learning, research and collaboration among North Carolina’s education community. For a more than a quarter century MCNC has operated a robust, secure, exclusive communications network that has connected the institutions of the University of North Carolina System, Duke University and Wake Forest University to each other and through advanced research networks such as Internet2 and National Lambda Rail, to the world. Visit www.mcnc.org.

About NCREN Community

NCREN, operated by the non-profit organization MCNC, is one of the nation’s first statewide education and research networks. It provides broadband communications technology services and support to K-12 school districts, higher education campuses and academic research institutions across North Carolina. MCNC offers the NCREN network, technology tools and services to guarantee equal access to 21st century learning by providing a future-proof technology network that is the foundation for change and innovation in our educational systems. In addition to all public school districts in North Carolina, the NCREN user-community now includes: 17 institutions of the UNC System and General Administration; 24 of the 36 North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities; 58 North Carolina Community Colleges; research institutions and foundations; and, along with the N.C. Office of Information Technology Services and other partners, MCNC will provide broadband services for the Public Health and Non-Profit Hospitals Phases of the N.C. Telehealth Network in 2011 and beyond.

About Golden LEAF Foundation

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. The foundation receives one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities across the state. The Golden LEAF Foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 1,072 grants worth over $497 million since its inception. To learn more about applying for a grant, visit www.goldenleaf.org or call (888) 684.8404.

About ERC Broadband

ERC Broadband is a regional, community-focused broadband network based in Asheville, N.C. that serves to expand technology in western North Carolina. ERC Broadband’s regional network connects groups including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center, regional colleges and universities, local and regional government, and regional healthcare facilities. In addition to local and wide-area networking, ERC Broadband provides data center services and community consulting to implement networks and grow infrastructure, and to increase technological awareness. Visit www.ercbroadband.org.

About MCNC’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) Awards

MCNC currently is working on a $146 million expansion of the North Carolina Research and Education Network expected to be complete by 2013. This initiative has been labeled the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative.

To fund this expansion, MCNC applied for and received two U.S. Department of Commerce Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) awards totaling $104 million. In addition, MCNC raised $42 million in private matching funds as required by the BTOP program. MCNC’s sources of matching funds included $24 million from the Golden LEAF Foundation, $8 million from the MCNC Endowment, $4 million from private-sector wholesale telecommunications company FRC, and an estimated $6.55 million through donations of land and existing conduit from individual community colleges, universities, and others including the Albemarle Pamlico Economic Development Corporation. No direct funding from the State of North Carolina was required. MCNC estimates the expansion of NCREN will create or save 2,500 engineering, construction, and manufacturing jobs in the state.

Both MCNC awards are a part of a coordinated strategy developed by the Office of the Governor, the N.C. Office of Economic Recovery & Investment, and e-NC Authority to improve broadband access for businesses and residents in underserved areas. Once all work is complete, the two rounds of BTOP infrastructure have the potential to serve directly, or through MCNC and ERC partnerships with private-sector service providers, more than 1,500 community anchor institutions, 180,000 businesses, and reach more than 300,000 underserved families.

MCNC-BTOP Webspace & Social Networks

Acceptable Use Policy and Forward-Looking Statements

MCNC, NCREN and the North Carolina STEM Community Collaborative (NC STEM), respect the Intellectual Property rights of others. MCNC, NCREN, NC STEM and all other product or service names are registered trademarks in the USA and other countries. ® indicates USA registration. Whenever your document or writing uses materials or information that is copyrighted by either MCNC, NCREN or NC STEM, you must obtain permission. All requests for permission to use copyrighted materials, along with a copy of the materials you wish to use and a description of the document you are writing and how it will be published and/or distributed, should be sent to MCNC, NCREN and/or NC STEM communications representatives for prior approval. In addition, certain statements made are considered forward looking, reflecting each organization’s current intent, belief or expectations. MCNC, NCREN or NC STEM undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements herein whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. For any additional questions or for clarity regarding acceptable use, contact the individual organization’s communications office.

Editorial Contacts
MCNC Communications Hotline: (919) 248.4105
Noah Garrett, NGC Communications, on behalf of MCNC: (252) 423.1277 or press@mcnc.org


Source: newswire

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