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Regional carrier Dakota Central, an operator serving rural areas of North Dakota, recently upgraded its fiber ring to support higher speeds and to provide more room for growth.

The company, which is an owner company of statewide network Dakota Carrier Network, expects the upgraded fiber ring to support opportunities to offer new services such as 5G backhaul for wireless carriers, said John Cunningham, chief network officer of Dakota Central, in an email to Telecompetitor in response to some questions from us.

“Even though we don’t have 5G service available in our area today, wireless providers have recently requested pricing for 10 Gbps Ethernet circuits to upgrade their busiest cell tower locations,” Cunningham said.

Wireless providers work directly with Dakota Carrier Network for wholesale connectivity to cell towers across North Dakota.

Dakota Central Fiber Ring Upgrade

Dakota Central chose IP optical equipment from Ribbon Communications to upgrade its fiber ring, which interconnects multiple aggregation points. An important factor in that choice was the ability to “seamlessly increase transport bandwidth,” said Cunningham.

“Our goal is to have this network in place for 10 years,” he noted. “Based on growth from our previous transport network, in the next 10 years, we will need to increase to 400 Gbps of throughput.”

The upgraded network already supports 1 Gbps service with end-to-end quality of service for K-12 schools in Dakota Central’s service area – connectivity that the company would not have been able to provide from its previous platform, according to Cunningham.

The Dakota Central fiber ring now has a 200 Gbps backbone that can scale to 9.6 Tbps, according to a spokesperson for Ribbon Communications. The carrier can quickly expand network capacity between any of its sites, a press release explains.

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