As fast as the North Carolina Research and Education Network is with its current state-wide expansion underway through extensive additions of fiber, it will soon be even faster in more areas – and increasingly reliable.

In a deal being announced today, MCNC says it has selected AT&T to design and build two additional Internet access sites for NCREN.

NCREN, which services schools, colleges, universities, government and other organizations across the state, is in the process of being expanded to provide broadband service from the mountains to the coast. Its bigger footprint also is being utilized to provide service to public safety and other organizations.

Working with federal funding and the Golden LEAF economic development group as well as other private sector partners and using its own financial resources, MCNC says NCREN will soon provide a comprehensive statewide fiber-based backbone. But even as that infrastructure is being put in place, the non-profit group based in RTP says more support is needed.

MCNC is continuing a $144 million expansion of the network. The Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative, as the project is called, has added 2,400 schools, 58 community colleges and more than 80 non-profit hospitals.

Thus the two new access points.

MCNC also will work with AT&T’s Managed Internet Service group that provides:

  • Access to the Internet or a VPN [virtual private network]
  • A dedicated port into the AT&T OC48/192 [fiber] Common Backbone, which has no single core backbone point of failure
  • Service level agreements with 100 percent service reliability and 99.95 percent data delivery
  • 24x7x365 monitoring and technical support
  • AT&T or customer provided equipment
  • Synchronous high-bandwidth data transfer speeds
  • Guaranteed provisioning

Neither financial terms nor the locations of the additional facilities were disclosed. 

As the network grows and traffic increases, MCNC Chief Executive Officer Joe Freddoso says the decision was made to strengthen its core infrastructure.

“As MCNC continues to expand network communications, AT&T was a clear choice to help meet our growing bandwidth needs,” Freddoso explained. “We operate NCREN as a shared platform to deliver broadband services, giving our schools and our state a real competitive advantage in today’s new broadband economy.”

 NCREN already is used by all the state’s public school district as well as 58 community colleges, nearly 30 universities and colleges as well as North Carolina state government.

Commercial users are not permitted to use the MCNC maintained part of the network. However, as NCREN expands, MCNC works with private sector partners to provide access to “dark,” or unused fiber strands, so private sector users can gain broadband access.