Feature Article

June 07, 2012

Rural Areas Increasing Broadband Deployment

A project between Tellabs and Agile Networks will deploy broadband to three million homes in Ohio this year, including many underserved rural areas. In addition to providing broadband for first responders, the initiative will bring fast broadband connectivity to many underserved rural communities.

Many states across the U.S. are working to increase the breadth of their broadband networks. A project in Vermont, called ConnectVT, has the goal of getting broadband into every Vermont household by the end of 2013.

In the case of Ohio, Tellabs and Agile want to increase the reliability of broadband to ensure that high-quality communications channels always remain open. By eliminating leased T1 lines, the program will increase redundancy for added back-ups and reduce latency to ensure speedy communications.

“The reliability, reach and capacity of this network will provide a high-speed backbone for economic development and innovation, such as smart fields for oil and gas monitoring,” noted Dan Kelly, executive vice president, global products at Tellabs, in a press release. “The network will help Ohio maintain its existing services while adding new offerings such as IP VPN and MPLS.”

Many factors are driving the push to increase broadband coverage in rural areas. In addition to improving emergency services, mobile broadband will enable smart grid deployment and video monitoring. Additionally, better broadband reach will help the nation’s school-aged children. The government’s Connect2Compete initiative provides low-cost broadband access to families whose school children are on free lunches.

Like Ohio, many states want to create infrastructure for economic development. In Minnesota, only 57 percent of households are currently meeting the state’s goal for sufficient access to high-speed broadband. Minnesota has received $200 million in stimulus funds to improve broadband access throughout the state. Many state-owned companies, like Paul Bunyan Communications, have received grants to assist with the process.

The state of Washington’s Rural Broadband Cooperative hopes to expand broadband access for telehealth, education, economic development and public safety. Washington is focusing its efforts on getting broadband to crucial hub points such as schools, libraries, chambers of commerce and tribal centers.

According to Agile Networks CTO Kyle Quillen, the Ohio broadband initiative will bring metropolitan connectivity to micropolitan areas. “The network will position Ohio as a leader in a state-wide broadband infrastructure, leveling a playing field for many communities that currently do not have reliable broadband services.”

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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