The District of Columbia was awarded $17.4 million in federal funds in early July for its DC-Community Access Network (DC-CAN) broadband infrastructure project. A high-speed middle mile broadband infrastructure, DC-CAN promises to bring a new era in broadband access and opportunity to economically distressed areas of the city.
Issued under the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the DC-CAN Comprehensive Community Infrastructure grant was one of two awards won by the District in this second (and last) round of funding. The District also received a $1.5 million Public Computing Centers grant, which proposes to mitigate long wait times for computers at District libraries and recreation centers.
DC-CAN will provide direct Internet connections for community anchor institutions located predominantly in the city's underserved areas. The network will serve approximately 190 anchor institutions in these areas, including four community college locations, 58 public safety entities, 38 schools, 23 libraries and 64 health care clinics largely in Wards 5, 7 and 8, including the communities of Eckington, Kenilworth and Anacostia, which have unemployment rates substantially higher than the national average.
DC-CAN is expected to provide the following benefits, among others:
- Encourage improved broadband service for local consumers and businesses in underserved areas, including as many as 248,000 households and 30,500 businesses, by enabling local Internet service providers to directly connect to the project’s open network.
- Promote more affordable broadband via lower prices that last-mile providers will be able to offer by using the network
- Promote public safety by enabling all city public safety communications to operate on the same infrastructure and by standardizing access to federal law-enforcement databases.
- Facilitate the sharing of vital health-related information among the District’s community health centers towards one patient—one record electronic management of medical records and enable use of additional health IT applications such as telemedicine and in-home monitoring.
- Provide charter schools access to the Internet and shared educational applications (such as Internet2, National LambdaRail and MAX) with other DC public schools, the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and the Community College of the District of Columbia (CCDC).
- Connect the public computer centers in the companion DC Community Computing Resources project.
- Provide jobs and training for unemployed District residents during the DC-CAN network buildout.
DC-CAN will create 10 points of interconnection throughout the city for last mile Internet service providers to deliver affordable broadband access to residents and businesses in underserved areas. Partners will be able to peer at a reasonable cost and provide end user access via any type of technology at speeds up to 40 Gbps. The network will also be available to provide backhaul and services for commercial and institutional entities.
DC-CAN will upgrade and augment the District of Columbia’s existing 293-mile DC-Net fiber network with over 170 new fiber miles and provide anchor institutions and last mile broadband providers with speeds of up to 10 Gbps. The project will include the construction of new underground fiber for a core ring in the city, along with lateral fiber rings supporting anchor institutions.
Under the grant requirements, the project must be completed by June 30, 2013.