MCNC on Friday named Cisco Systems and three other firms to execute a $20 million expansion of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) broadband network for schools and other institutions in 37 counties in western and southeastern North Carolina under the federal Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP).

Gov. Bev Perdue was present for the announcement at the headquarters of CommScope, a fiber-optic cable maker that will supply materials for the expansion.

In addition to Cisco doing optical design work for all portions of the project, the installers and the splicing contractors are:

Fiber Technologies, Inc., a Quanta Services company (NYSE: PWR), that will install approximately 200 miles of fiber in segments from Hickory to Lenoir, Asheville to Old Fort, Enka to Sylva, and Hendersonville to Huntersville.

Globe Communications, which will do segments that include about 220 miles starting in Rocky Mount and running through Greenville, New Bern, Morehead City and Jacksonville before ending in Wilmington.

Comtech Technical Services will do all fiber splicing related to the project.

“We are embarking on a public-private partnership that will literally change the way North Carolina communicates with the rest of the world,” Perdue said. “From the mountains to the coast, broadband access is a difference-maker for rural North Carolina. And, it’s a great example of how our state is leading America’s recovery.”

MCNC is paying for the work with money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). In January, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) awarded MCNC $28.2 million to engineer and construct approximately 500 miles of new fiber.

MCNC then 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.

Another expansion for northeastern North Carolina will be carried out with $75.75 million the Department of Commerce awarded the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI) in August.

Comtech and Globe have North Carolina roots. Comtech was founded in Hildebran in Catawba County in 2008, and Globe started up in Durham in 1964.

NCREN, which MCNC operates, is one of the nation’s first statewide education and research networks. It provides broadband communications technology services and support to K-12 school districts, higher education campuses and academic research institutions across North Carolina.

MCNC is an independent, non-profit organization whose task is to continuously improve learning and collaboration throughout North Carolina’s K20 education community.

Get the latest news alerts: at Twitter.