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Report: New fiber optic network for poor DC neighborhoods

By Max Burkhalter
March 30, 2011
At a recent ground-breaking ceremony, Washington, D.C, mayor Vincent Gray officially launched a new initiative designed to bring fiber optic network connectivity to new areas in the nation's capital.

According to a Betanews report, the initiative is designed to bring high-speed broadband to area's of the city that are currently underserved.

Washington, D.C., is widely acknowledged to be one of the best-connected cities in the world. Many of the city's residents and businesses have access to high-quality fiber optic networks that enable users to utilize networks for a range of commercial, educational and other purposes.

Some neighborhoods, however, have missed out on advances in network connectivity, according to the report. It is this "digital divide" that the new fiber optic network initiative hopes to address.

According to the report, D.C.'s "infrastructure is robust, but at times it seems the beneficiaries of it are only on one side of the Anacostia River." Many lower-income areas of the city remain "woefully underconnected," the report said.

Called the DC-CAN program, the new initiative is expected to provide fiber optic network connectivity to approximately 250 "anchor institutions." These will include public libraries, schools, community colleges, healthcare clinics, senior centers and public safety sites.

The anchor sites will have network speeds of up to 10 Gbps. As the initiative grows, "middle mile" services of up to 100 Gbps will be offered to internet service providers, local wireless projects and entrepreneurs, the report said.

Speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony for the project that took place in Southeast D.C., Mayor Gray said fiber optic networks have "the power to transform communities." According to the mayor, the new project "will bring affordable broadband capabilities to residents of the District, students and families, schools, libraries, community-based health and social service centers and at our community college campuses."

Furthermore, the mayor said, the new network will help public safety workers respond better to emergencies, "with bandwidth upgrades to metropolitan police and fire and emergency management services sites."

The project is expected to cost approximately $25 million and is primarily being funded by a $17.5 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Service is expected to begin on the new network in Ward 8, the least connected of the city's wards, this summer.


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