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MCNC Ready To Begin Construction On NCREN Fiber-Optic Expansion

This project is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). MCNC was awarded $28.2 million through the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) in January to fund the engineering and construction of approximately 500 miles of new fiber to expand the optical footprint of NCREN in southeastern and western North Carolina. MCNC raised $11.7 million in matching funds for its successful application through private sources, including $4 million from the MCNC endowment, making the total project a $40 million investment in broadband infrastructure. No state tax dollars were used to fund this project.

The U.S. Department of Commerce also awarded $75.75 million in August in a second round of funding to support the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI). The Golden LEAF Foundation Board of Directors awarded $24 million in matching funds for the Round 2 grant. An additional $5.25 million in match was raised from the MCNC endowment, donations of land from individual community colleges and universities, and a donation of already-installed conduit in northeastern North Carolina from the Albemarle Pamlico Economic Development Corporation. This award builds on MCNC's Round 1 BTOP award to where North Carolina now will benefit from more than $140 million to expand high-speed connectivity in rural unserved and underserved portions of the state. Requests for Proposals and other announcements associated with GLRBI are forthcoming.

Both of MCNC's awards are a part of a coordinated strategy developed by the Office of the Governor, the N.C. Office of Economic Recovery & Investment and eNC, the state's rural broadband authority, to improve broadband access for businesses and residents in underserved areas. Once all work is complete, NCREN has the potential to serve more than 1,500 anchor institutions, 180,000 businesses, and reach more than 300,000 underserved families.

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