Broadband Communities

JAN-FEB 2014

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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and later Alcatel. I became a vice president of Alcatel-NA (North America) and stayed there until 1988. After a brief time with an investment group, I went to work for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Te cost for us to connect to Research Triangle Park and MCNC and its network, and thus to gain access to the Internet, was more than $350,000 a year. So Jim Leutze, a visionary UNC-W chancellor, and I pitched Bell South and Nortel to test out an ATM SONET network in an integrated community network design in both Wilmington and Charlotte. It worked and showed the state where the world would be going. Wilmington NC was connected to the world via telecom before it was connected to the capitol in Raleigh by an Interstate highway. In the test in Wilmington, we also created the frst integrated community network serving health, education and business. Nortel picked up the idea and marketed it as their Integrated Community Network (ICN) product for years, adding government facilities to the mix. In 1992 we asked for $400,000 each from our General Assembly to connect UNC Wilmington and Appalachian State to MCNC's backbone. In 1993, With ATM SONET fber being deployed state wide, the cost dropped to $48,000 a year. But that was still too much for many of the schools. So began the efort to push for more fber facilities across the state to community anchor institutions and to begin to initiate the movement towards digital learning in our educational facilities. Bipartisan Consensus After proving the ATM-SONET fber network would work, we asked the state for the frst money to connect all universities, community colleges and schools. In 1993, just $4.5 million was the request, but we got pushback. It was hard for the legislature to understand the need. Gov. Jim Hunt, a Democrat, called in all previous governors (which included two Republicans and two Democrats at the time), top industry and utility CEOs and the head of the University of North Carolina system, to meet with the legislative leadership, all Democrats, at the governor's mansion to tell them how critical this was to the North Carolina economy. As usual, Gov. Hunt persuaded the legislative leadership to move forward. Tus began the frst ATM-SONET fber public switched network in the world. BellSouth and Nortel partnered, then GTE, Carolina Tel-Sprint, then all the small independent carriers joined and we were able to deploy the NC Information Highway (NCIH) across our state. Bill Smith was the oversight guy for BellSouth. He's now at AT&T as President of AT&T Technologies. We also had an international partner with Fujitsu and its FEDEX switch – there were no other vendors yet for that type of equipment. By August 1994 we had all 16 state public colleges and universities connected, along with Only Texas has more people living in rural areas than North Carolina. Yet all 2,700 of its public schools and all public colleges are connected to fast fber networks. BBC_Gatefold PagesDIGITALONLY_Jan14.indd 7 2/6/14 10:21 AM

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