Dakota Carrier Network, a statewide North Dakota network owned by 15 small rural telephone companies, has deployed equipment in its backbone network capable of providing 40 Gbps and 100 Gbps wavelength services, rivaling capabilities of networks owned by some of the world’s largest network operators.

As Dakota Carrier Network Business Development Manager Seth Arndorfer explained in an interview, Dakota Carrier Network is also putting its own backbone network traffic onto 40G and 100 G wavelengths.

“We have a 100-gigabit wavelength platform,” said Arndorfer. “We’re running wireless backhaul for all of the major wireless carriers, with state government traffic on a separate wavelength.”

Dakota Carrier Network, which offers services to other service providers and to enterprise customers, carries a lot of Internet traffic because a key business for the company is providing Internet access to its owner telcos and some large Internet service providers.

Dakota Carrier Network’s upgrade was made possible, in part, through a $10.8 million middle-mile broadband stimulus grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. In addition to going toward the network upgrade, grant funding also was used to bring fiber to anchor institutions – including schools, universities, and public safety locations and radio towers – throughout the state.

Arndorfer said many of those organizations were already using lower-speed connections from Dakota Carrier Network and have now upgraded the speed of their connection. He noted, however, that the terms of the grant prevent the carrier from offering discounted deals to the anchor institutions because to do so would have been seen as anti-competitive.

One important benefit of the network upgrade is that next-generation 911 services are now available outside of population centers, where such services were not cost-effective in the past, Arndorfer said.

Currently no single customer has taken a 40G or 100G wavelength, but some have purchased 10G wavelengths, and Dakota Carrier Network is now well positioned to meet customer demand in the future.

The Dakota Carrier Network upgrade was based on Ciena’s Packet-Optical Platform equipped with coherent optical processors and deployed in an 88-channel DWDM ring.

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