Albany, N.Y. – Through a recently completed $50 million project, Albany-based ION (Independent Optical Network) has brought high-speed Internet connectivity to unserved and underserved areas in more than 70 rural communities in Upstate New York and parts of Pennsylvania and Vermont. The federal investment of $39.7 million was complemented with a $6.7 million investment from ION, a $3 million investment from the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC) and a $3.2 million investment from the New York State Economic Development Corporation.
The federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) project funded an additional 1,400-plus miles of fiber optic network, bringing robust broadband speeds to these rural areas that have long been at a competitive disadvantage when it came to broadband connections. The network can serve more than 300 anchor institutions, including libraries, state and community colleges, state and county agencies, and health care organizations, and is currently connected to more than 130 of those institutions.
In addition to these organizations, the project makes broadband more readily available to 250,000 households and 38,000 businesses. It also provided much-needed investments and job creation to these communities.
“Bringing fiber to rural communities is very important to the economic future of these communities and upstate New York as a whole,” said Jim Becker, CEO and president of ION. “In fact, this project was cited on President Obama’s list of 100 Stimulus Fund Projects that are Changing America. We are very proud of the work we’ve done to help these communities, and we continue to work closely with many of them to assist with their future plans.”
"The infrastructure ION has deployed not only brings new capabilities for rural communities, but vital, high capacity for the colleges and universities located there, capacity that will become increasingly important as the problems we attack become more data intensive, " said Dr. Timothy Lance, president and chair of NYSERNet. "But just as important has been the wonderful partnership with ION from which the research and education community will benefit for years to come."
"Affecting every aspect of academic and student life, broadband is essential to institutions of higher education,” said Gary Roberts, Alfred University’s director of information technology. “For decades now, rural institutions have had an extraordinarily difficult time procuring reasonably priced broadband. With the new ION network, affordable broadband is now available to Alfred University and institutions across the state. The results have truly been transformational."
The communities now have robust and reliable high-speed connection options (up to 10Gb, 40Gb, and 100Gb capabilities) thanks to the massive project. Overlapping fiber rings exist throughout the network, so that broadband circuits can be automatically switched in another direction in the event of a break in the line or equipment failure.
"The construction of the ARRA project has enabled the Development Authority to provide two diverse paths of broadband through the Adirondack Park linking the western and eastern halves of the North Country. This will provide new opportunities for business, new jobs and greater economic development for the entire seven-county region,” said James Wright, CEO for DANC.
As a carrier neutral provider, ION built the infrastructure, installing a sufficient amount of fiber to more than 30,000 poles to allow various service providers to utilize as much bandwidth as they need for their customers’ use. ION currently provides services to the major cellular providers, national and regional telecommunications carriers, rural service providers, as well as large businesses and enterprise throughout upstate NY and parts of PA and VT.
Funding for the project was awarded in late 2009 by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) under its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). In addition to the NTIA stimulus funding, ION received an additional grant of 10 percent of the total project cost through the New York State Innovation Economy Matching Grant Program.
ION is a subsidiary of Sovernet Communications, which provides Internet and telecommunication services throughout New England. It is currently constructing a 900-mile fiber optic network in Vermont, also funded through the BTOP program, which will provide fiber-based services to more than 340 Vermont community institutions. This network will connect with ION’s 3,000-mile network in New York.
ION is an Albany, New York based, statewide fiber network connecting more than 100 upstate New York communities and their surrounding areas with its 3000+ mile redundant and diversely routed network. ION currently provides services to the four major cellular providers, national and regional telecommunications providers, hospitals and healthcare organizations, colleges and universities, governmental entities, and large to medium businesses across its robust fiber network.