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Fiber optic network, staff expand

The Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC) is expanding its open-access advanced fiber optic network, as a result of three federal broadband stimulus grant awards, Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) officials announced Friday.

A $16 million grant award MBC received in February, with $4 million in matching funds provided by the Virginia Tobacco Commission, will enable MBC to grow its existing middle mile infrastructure to provide fiber connectivity to over 100 K-12 schools in Southern Virginia, according to a MBC press release.

MBC is building over 400 miles of new fiber routes, bringing approximately 75 new jobs to the region to include 25 jobs in Halifax County. This grant also provides additional access points within the unserved and underserved region for MBC members to provide affordable retail telecom service to the school systems and to extend last-mile services to residential and business customers, the release continued.

MBC also received a $10 million NTIA grant in August which will be used to build 170 miles of new open-access fiber backbone into rural communities of eastern Virginia, interconnecting with networks in the Hampton Roads region. Over 30 community anchor institutions will be connected to the MBC network. Old Dominion University provided $1.2 million in additional matching funds to MBC and will be a partner in this project, the release further stated.

A $5.5 million NTIA infrastructure grant was awarded to the Virginia Tech Foundation.  MBC is partnering with the foundation to design, engineer and construct a 110-mile open access fiber optic network between Blacksburg and Bedford that will create new network opportunities for MBC members to reach remote and unserved areas of six counties in Virginia’s Appalachian region, and to act as a catalyst for high capacity research and development opportunities.

When all of these projects are completed by 2013, MBC’s fiber route miles will increase from 800 to 1,500.

To manage these projects, MBC has added nine new positions in the past year in the Riverstone Technology Park building corporate headquarters office in South Boston.

To accommodate the increased staff, MBC’s office square footage will increase by 83 percent. MBC will now occupy the entire second floor west wing of the Riverstone Building with their operations center, the release said.  

The Industrial Development Authority of Halifax County secured a Southside Economic Development allocation grant of $271,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission to assist with the building up-fit and backup of existing operations, according to IDA officials.

About MBC
The Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC) owns and operates an advanced open-access 800+ mile fiber optic backbone network that provides wholesale optical transport services, colocation, dark fiber, and tower construction/leasing. Over 55 private sector telecom providers are members of MBC. They use MBC’s open access network to expand their network reach, reduce their transport costs, enable new services and applications and drive advanced broadband services in Southern Virginia. MBC serves over 60 GigaParks (www.gigapark-va.com) in Southern Virginia, which provide high capacity, low cost operating environments for technology companies, data centers, and web hosting providers. MBC’s mission is economic development, job creation and private sector investment in Southern Virginia. For more information about MBC, visit www.mbc-va.com.