Dec 19, 2011 — BROOMFIELD, Colo., Dec. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Level 3 Communications, Inc. (NYSE: LVLT), the Central Valley Independent Network (CVIN LLC), and the nonprofit Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) today announced that Level 3’s advanced IP network will serve as an important component in the Central Valley Next Generation Broadband Infrastructure project, a $66.6 million total cost project that is being partly funded with $46.6 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The project will bring advanced communications to rural, underserved areas by creating a 1,300 mile, high-capacity fiber-based infrastructure throughout 18 counties in California’s Central Valley. The project is a joint effort of the CVIN and the CENIC, and will utilize over 300-route miles of Level 3 infrastructure as part of the 18-county backbone network. The launch of the project’s construction was celebrated earlier this month.
As a result of the project, more than four million people in nearly 2,000 communities will be able to leverage the countless benefits of broadband access to the Internet. Once the project is complete, 64 anchor institutions, including K-12 and higher education providers, county and main libraries, healthcare providers, public safety sites, businesses and residences will connect to the fiber backbone that is at the heart of the project.
Residences and businesses in the project area will be served by CVIN LLC’s Vast Networks, a joint enterprise created in 1995 and comprised of affiliates of several independent telephone companies located in central and northern California. CVIN’s management has more than 250 team-years of experience in the telecom industry, and many of CVIN’s member companies have been serving California’s rural market for more than 100 years.
Virtually all of California’s K-20 research and education community – more than ten million people – have been served every day for the past decade by the ultra-advanced fiber-optic backbone created and maintained by CENIC, the 3,000-mile California Research & Education Network or CalREN, to which the 64 anchor institutions in the project area will connect via fiber.
“I fully intend to make CVIN / Vast Networks the dominant broadband provider in the region,” said David S. Nelson, chief executive officer of CVIN / Vast Networks. “The Central Valley is ripe for this major infrastructure project, which will provide excellent service at a competitive price. By leveraging CENIC / Level 3’s existing infrastructure along with the new network, Vast Networks will have access to affordable Internet bandwidth that we can deliver to the homes and businesses of the Central Valley,”
“CENIC’s goal has always been to connect its K-20 member institutions via robust and high-capacity fiber to the CalREN backbone so that the community that we were created to serve can enjoy all the benefits of advanced networking, and Level 3’s network and support has been a valuable part of this effort,” said Jim Dolgonas, president and CEO of CENIC. “Thanks to funding from ARRA and the California Advanced Service Fund (CASF) and the investment of CVIN’s affiliates, we will be able to bring the benefits of advanced communications technology to the people in the underserved Central Valley region.”
Delivering high capacity and extensive network reach, fiber assets from Level 3 already have played a vital role in serving the research and education institutions of California. Since the early 2000s, CENIC and Level 3 have forged agreements enabling CalREN to be created and to operate over the Level 3 fiber-optic network. Level 3’s national profile in other ARRA-funded efforts to bring the benefits of broadband networking to underserved communities also made them an excellent ally in this effort.
“As rapidly as the role and value of the Internet grows – from distance learning to video conferencing to research – so does the disadvantage of not having fast, reliable Internet access, which is why Level 3’s advanced IP network and its extensive reach are ideal for this project,” said Edward Morche, senior vice president of Level 3’s government markets group, which serves the Research and Education market. “Through long-term relationships with organizations like CENIC and CVIN, our network will deliver faster, more reliable Internet to this underserved region, resulting in the education, enterprise and economic advantages that come from bridging the digital divide.”
Prior to the implementation of this project, CVIN has leveraged the positive relationship between CENIC and Level 3 to provide Internet access to its existing business and residential customers.
Despite the crucial agricultural role played by the Central Valley in providing the necessities of life to many millions of people nationwide, substantial portions of the Valley are firmly on the wrong side of the “digital divide.” Seven of the ten cities throughout the U.S. with the highest unemployment rates as of August 2011 are located in counties which will be served by this project. Expanding high-capacity Internet access to these and similar cities could also support economic recovery in these rural areas.
For more information on Level 3’s advanced network and service offerings, visit www.level3.com.