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District Breaks Ground on New Fiber Network Serving City's Most Underserved Areas

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The network will enable more affordable broadband services to residents and businesses in the city’s neediest areas.

The District of Columbia Government broke ground today on its new high-speed fiber network, the DC Community Access Network (DC-CAN), which will bring affordable broadband services to community anchors throughout the District, with a focus on anchors in the city’s most economically distressed areas. In addition, the network will enable more affordable broadband services to residents and businesses in the city’s neediest areas through partnership with last mile service providers.

“This event marks the dawning of a new day in the District,” said District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “Broadband has the power to transform communities. This project will bring affordable broadband capabilities to residents of the District, students and families, schools, libraries, community-based health and social service centers and to our community college campuses. It also improves the ability of public safety workers to respond to emergencies, with bandwidth upgrades to Metropolitan Police and Fire and Emergency Management Services sites.”

DC-CAN is a keystone in the bridge over the digital divide. — Rob Mancini, Acting Chief Technology Officer

DC-CAN focuses on areas of the city with a broadband adoption rate of less than 40 percent, or underserved, which encompasses much of Wards 5, 7 and 8, along with areas within Wards 1, 4 and 6. It will offer service to 223 health clinics, charter schools, senior centers and other community anchors and will upgrade service at 68 public library and public safety sites.

Funded primarily through a $17.5 million grant from NTIA, the $25 million DC-CAN program will offer broadband services to health care, educational, public safety and other community anchors particularly in the city’s neediest areas. It will also create a broadband super-highway around the District to bring affordable middle mile services of up to 100 Gigabits per second to Internet Service Providers, community-based wireless groups and others engaged in offering broadband services to homes and businesses. The project is managed by the District Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) DC-Net program.

DC-CAN is one of several federal NTIA grants awarded to the District totaling $27 million, for an overall $38 million program aimed at spanning the city’s digital divide.

"Recovery Act investments are expanding broadband Internet access for DC residents and the community institutions that serve them,” said Broadband Technology Opportunities Program Director Anthony Wilhelm. “The DC-CAN project will lay the groundwork for improved education, health care, public safety and economic growth in the District.”

In Ward 8, the network will provide access to high value, affordable broadband services to non-profit and governmental community anchor sites including: health centers, charter schools, public housing sites, Fire and Emergency Management Services sites, public libraries, MPD locations, senior wellness centers, community service centers, Community College of the District of Columbia campuses and other community-based non-profit locations.

“DC-CAN is a keystone in the bridge over the digital divide,” said Rob Mancini, Acting Chief Technology Officer. “The network supports all of the District government’s efforts to increase access to and adoption of broadband services, among these improved public computing centers in our public library branches and initiatives to improve adoption through computer training and transition to in-home computer use.”

Services will be available beginning this summer to community anchors in Ward 8, later this year in Ward 7 and next spring in Ward 5. Services to community anchors in other wards will be available as fiber construction continues in a counter-clockwise direction about the city. Fiber construction for the network is due to be complete by 2013.

“DC-CAN will also offer additional broadband options to residents and businesses through partnerships with the private sector,” said Acting Chief Technology Officer, Rob Mancini. “We are encouraging community-based organizations, local Internet service providers and carriers to take advantage of our low-cost middle mile offerings to pass those savings along to end users.“

For more information about DC-CAN see the DC-Net website.

About OCTO

The Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) is the central technology organization of the District of Columbia Government. OCTO develops, implements and maintains the District’s technology infrastructure; develops and implements major enterprise applications; establishes and oversees technology policies and standards for the District; provides technology services and support for District agencies and develops technology solutions to improve services to businesses, residents and visitors in all areas of District government.

A subsidiary of OCTO, DC-Net is a facilities-based Metropolitan Area Network that provides a full suite of managed, interconnection and transport services to government and public services organizations in the District of Columbia.