Southeastern Virginia gets a $12.5 million expansion in fiber optics

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Old Dominion University, in a partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBD), has landed a $10 million grant for a project that will expand the scope and speed of fiber optics in southeastern Virginia.

The grant comes from the U. S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. In addition to the $10 million, ODU and MBC are each investing $1.2 million to install 170 miles of high-speed Internet infrastructure over the next two years. The project will extend from existing MBC network connection points in Emporia and Wakefield and be
constructed in several rural communities including Southampton, Sussex, Surry and Isle of Wight counties and the cities of Suffolk and Franklin. 

More than 60 community institutions such as schools, hospitals and emergency response departments will be connected, allowing the agencies to purchase new telecom services. 

Besides extending broadband to underserved areas, the project will give Norfolk’s ODU more dependable high-speed communication technology to advance research and education on campus. “This is an investment that opens incredible opportunities for economic development and innovations for education program delivery in the region,” university President John R. Broderick said in a statement.

Another major beneficiary will be the region’s E-LITE network (Eastern Lightwave Interconnect Enterprise). It provides high-speed connections among ODU and its Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center; the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg; Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News and other federal agencies.  Currently, the network can access only one path to Internet service providers in Northern Virginia, and that path is susceptible to service interruptions. The new network will provide an alternate path.

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