Wednesday, October 8, 2008

States Expand Communications

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas announced on September 30, 2008, that FairPoint Communications will provide 100 percent broadband coverage to 51 communities spread across all 14 Vermont counties. Today, FairPoint currently offers high speed internet service using DSL over the phone wires that already exist at a customer’s location. The Governor wants Vermont to be the first state to have universal access to quality cellular coverage and high speed broadband technology.

FairPoint will work with the Vermont Telecommunications Authority to deliver high speed internet service using a combination of wired and wireless technology referred to as WiMax. To accomplish this goal, the company is simultaneously building a new IP-based next generation network. This fiber-based core network is capable of integrating various technologies and services over the same secure network infrastructure. The system will not only support high speed internet services but also enhance IP-based products and services across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

In Alabama, Governor Bob Riley announced that his state just received a $250,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. The Governor mentioned in his State of the State Address in 2008, that the goal is to make high speed internet available to every community in the state within the next four years. The ARC funding will help to reach that goal.

To help to make high speed internet available to everyone in the state, the Governor created the Alabama Broadband Initiative by Executive Order in May and established a 15 member board to coordinate the initiative’s efforts.

The initial phase of the project will research and map the current broadband infrastructure in the state. The initiative will conduct a comprehensive inventory of existing broadband accessibility and produce a digitized map of the network. The map will serve as a resource for communities to show industrial recruiting prospects existing infrastructure, and will be a guide for the state’s internet service providers interested in filling in the gaps. The second phase of the project will work with communities to develop local technology growth plans.

Hawaii just unveiled a new inter-island communications system to help public safety and civil defense official stay connected during emergencies. The $30 million system includes refurbishing 15 communications towers on five islands that can withstand hurricane force winds up to 155mph and be able to operate with their own generators. The system just went on line and now links Oahu with four towers, Maui, and parts of the Big Island with five towers.

The new system was built with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard which contributed more than $13 million to the effort along with the state and counties. So far, about $23 million has been spent on the system with an additional $7 million in work still to be completed.