ELON, N.C. – So how do North Carolina’s leaders use a high-speed fiber network running from the coast to the mountains?

North Carolina’s Research and Education Network is nearing completion, and Joe Freddoso, chief executive officer of MCNC, which operates the network, says it’s time for state to think about how to use it.

“North Carolina continues to set a national benchmark by leveraging NCREN to provide high-performance broadband connectivity in the public sector, and we are nearly finished with the surmounting challenge of building an owned, statewide optical fiber network to become the new and advanced NCREN,” Freddoso said Friday.

“This new infrastructure affordably and effectively removes bandwidth restraints from how we conduct public service, education, health care, and economic development in North Carolina. So, now it is time to ‘think big’ on how we use it.”

Freddoso made his remarks at MCNC’s annual Community Day event, which took place Thursday and Friday at Elon University.

MCNC is the private, not-for-profit operator of NCREN.

The project, which will cost $144 million to complete and is funding in large part by federal grants as well as the Golden LEAF economic development group, is 90 percent complete, Freddoso said.

MCNC sees the network enabling North Carolina’s public sector capitalize on big data, broadband, telemedicine and health care, K-20 education, video, cloud computing, fiber expansion, shared services, and economic development.

The network also has partnered with private sector firms to extend broadband services into areas avoided by commercial providers.

MCNC Awards

MCNC also presented awards at the event:

  • The Robyn Render Endeavor Award was presented to James Gogan, director of networking at UNC Chapel Hill.
  • This Empower Award recipient was Nash Community College Chief Information Officer Jonathan Vester.
  • Lee Sartain, education policy specialist at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at N.C. State University, received the Community Choice Award, which was based on popular vote.