libraryMore than 100 K-12 schools throughout southern Virginia now get 10 Mbps or 100 Mbps data rates in the range of what they previously paid for T-1 service, thanks to a broadband stimulus fiber network project recently completed by Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation (MBC).

“Several schools have found that when they get 10 Mbps or 100 Mbps services, it’s often times cheaper than copper T-1 or DS-3 services from the incumbent carriers,” observed MBC President and CEO Tad Deriso of MBC in an email to Telecompetitor. Speeds up to 10 gigabits per second are available from as many as 45 telecom providers that currently buy wholesale transport services from MBC to reach their retail customers. Some offer speeds as high as 10 Gbps.

And the e-rate program helps subsidize carriers’ purchase of school and Internet connectivity.

The new network is an extension to an existing high-speed network built some years ago. The combination of a high-bandwidth middle-mile network and an open access approach that enables 45 service providers to use the network has created not only high-bandwidth services but also price competition.

“Depending on the services they buy from an MBC provider, pricing varies but not by distance,” Deriso said. Pricing “ranges from $60 per Mbps down to $5 per Mbps of connectivity – the cost per megabit goes down as the amount of bandwidth goes up.”

Another benefit of the deployment is that participating service providers can use the network to connect.

One of the ideas behind middle-mile broadband stimulus projects was that they would trigger more last-mile fiber access networks because the cost of connecting those networks to the Internet would be lower –and Deriso said that idea is proving itself.

“We have seen additional fiber deployments expand in some of our communities because of the MBC middle mile fiber network,” said Deriso. “Companies like Shentel, Comcast, Windstream, Lumos, CenturyLink, Kinex Telecom, Gamewood, Citizens Telephone Cooperative and other smaller ISPs have built fiber-to-the-home/ business extensions as a result of our network bringing their core networks closer to consumers,” wrote Deriso.

The new Virginia middle-mile network was funded by a $16 million grant, to which the Virginia Tobacco Commission added $4 million. MBC completed the project within the allotted timeframe and under budget, saving $1 million, the company said.

Underlying the new network is equipment from Infinera.