Governor Carney Opts-In to Federal Plan to Improve Broadband Network for First Responders

Delaware’s approval allows FirstNet to move forward with plan to build communications network for emergency personnel

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney signed a letter on Friday opting into a federal First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) plan to build a wireless broadband network intended to improve communications for first responders across the State of Delaware.

The FirstNet plan would allow Delaware police agencies, fire and EMS responders to communicate more effectively by prioritizing their cellular phone calls and data requests on the network. Governor Carney’s decision to opt-in allows FirstNet to move forward in building out a broadband network that, if implemented, would allow for efficient communications among emergency responders.

“Our first responders need access to state-of-the-art technology to communicate and respond effectively during emergency situations,” said Governor Carney. “This is only a first step, but this plan has real potential to prioritize communications among law enforcement agencies, fire and EMS personnel, and help our first responders protect the lives of Delawareans across our state.”

“During a critical incident or disaster, cellular communications are of paramount importance to our first responders,” said Robert Coupe, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security. “We are excited by the opportunity presented by this FirstNet plan, which would ensure that first responders have the priority access they need to deliver emergency services to the citizens of Delaware.”

“In addition to the potential benefits opting in to FirstNet can provide to our public safety personnel, this decision also helps us to advance our priority of expanding broadband options in rural, underserved areas of our state,” said James Collins, Chief Information Officer at the Delaware Department of Technology and Information.

FirstNet is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Authorized by Congress in 2012, its mission is to develop, build and operate the first nationwide, high-speed, broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. FirstNet will build, operate and maintain a secure wireless broadband communications network at no cost to the state.

 

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Governor Announces $1 Million Grant Awarded to Boost Internet Access in Sussex

Live video of the event

Photos from the event

Fibertech to build approximately 36 miles of new network infrastructure to provide high-speed broadband in rural areas

Dover, DE – Building on Delaware’s recent recognition for providing the best high-speed broadband internet access in the country, Governor Markell today announced a $1 million grant for network services provider Fibertech Networks to improve connectivity in Sussex County, helping address some of the few remaining pockets where Delaware residents and businesses do not have high quality service.

The construction of approximately 36 miles of fiber optic network focused on rural areas is designed to build on last year’s completion of a fiber line running from Middletown to Georgetown through a project led by the Department of Technology and Information (DTI) and funded by the Delaware Economic Development Office. At that time, the Governor announced that new grant funding would be provided to private companies that offer the best plans to use the new fiber line to reach underserved Delawareans, with a focus on key sites like public schools and libraries, health care facilities, and places that provide government services.Broadband

“Online tools and resources exponentially increase the possibilities to advance education, careers, business growth, and public safety, which means better quality of life and a stronger economy,” said Markell. “But that also means there is a clear dividing line in today’s society between those who have access to high-speed broadband and those who don’t.

“In a 21st century economy, we can only ensure all Delawareans have opportunities to reach their potential if everyone has access to these services, so despite our recent success in expanding access, we won’t be satisfied until that is the case. I congratulate Fibertech on this grant award and thank them for their work to further our state’s mission of universal broadband access.”

Fibertech, which already operates more than 300 miles of fiber optic network throughout Delaware’s three counties, will expand its network, building approximately 18 miles of new network to Seaford in the west and approximately 18 miles of new network to Lewes on the east. Both network segments will connect in Georgetown and therefore offer connectivity to Fibertech’s existing network infrastructure running through Kent and New Castle Counties with further connectivity to Philadelphia and New Jersey.

The Rochester, NY-based company will build on its efforts to offer network services to education, healthcare, government and financial institutions, along with and other large and medium-size businesses looking to meet demands for data and broadband connectivity. Fibertech extends its fiber optic network directly into business locations, allowing them to internally deploy a wide range of advanced telecommunications applications.Broadband

“The expansion of broadband in Sussex County will allow for an increase in access speeds in previously underserved areas,” said Delaware Chief Information Officer James Collins, who leads DTI. “This Delaware Broadband Fund grant is critical in creating opportunity and incentives for private vendors, Internet Service Providers, to do what they do best, bring direct services to schools, homes and farms, and to community and governmental centers.”

For those benefiting from the fiber line completed last year and the new construction, the state’s Sussex County broadband expansion efforts mean an increase in access speeds from 1.5 MB to potentially 10GB, with most users expected to opt for between 10MB and 100MB.

“The open-access network and investments we have made in Delaware have long helped bring more affordable broadband to businesses in New Castle and Kent counties,” said Mike Hurley, Sr. Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Fibertech. “We look forward to bringing these same capabilities to Sussex County and other areas. This project will facilitate building a transparent and agile infrastructure for State and local government that at the same time enhances modern commerce and increase regional competitiveness for businesses and underserved sectors.”

Funding for the grant comes from the Delaware Broadband Fund, established in 2013 by House Bill 96, which was sponsored by Representative Darryl Scott (D-Dover) and Senator Brian Bushweller (D-Dover). The legislation provides that the Fund will support and enhance rural broadband initiatives in under-served areas of the State, as well as broadband access at public schools and public libraries.

Markell and Collins announced the grant award at Burris Logistics Corporate Headquarters in Milford. As one of the nation’s largest and most sophisticated temperature-controlled food distribution companies, Burris leaders stressed the critical nature of their data communication network. Burris has leveraged the additional fiber installed a year ago to support company operations.

Burris develops custom storage and transportation programs that are uniquely designed to meet individual customer needs, offering over 60 million cubic feet of freezer warehousing space in 17 strategic locations across the country. Company officials made a presentation at the event to demonstrate the importance of high-speed broadband to their work.

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Governor’s Weekly Message: Expanding Broadband Access to Strengthen Our Economy

DOVER – In his weekly message, Governor Markell highlights efforts to expand broadband access throughout Delaware and the positive impact it has on our overall economy.

“I’m proud of Delaware’s consistent ranking as one of the best broadband states, but we also face a challenge seen across the nation,” said Governor Markell. “Americans in rural areas are significantly less likely to have access. By expanding the benefits of broadband, we’ll create economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for our people, and we’ll keep Delaware moving forward.”

Every week, the Governor’s office releases a new Weekly Message in video, audio, and transcript form. The message is available on:

YouTube: http://youtu.be/kuOD5boJMso
Delaware.Gov:  http://governor.delaware.gov/podcast_video.shtml
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Transcript of the Governor’s Weekly Message: Expanding Broadband Access to Strengthen Our Economy


Governor Announces Expansion of High-Speed Broadband Access in Sussex County

Georgetown, DE – Emphasizing the growing importance of broadband access in today’s economy, Governor Markell today detailed progress the state is making to expand high-speed internet access in underserved communities. Markell and Department of Technology and Information (DTI) Secretary Jim Sills joined legislators and other state and local officials at La Red Health Center to celebrate the completion of a fiber line running from Middletown to Georgetown, and to address the next phase of broadband expansion. The Governor announced a new grant to leverage the recently completed fiber line by extending its reach in the Georgetown region in hopes of better reaching facilities like La Red. Information on the grant and the application process is available at: http://dti.delaware.gov/information/vendors.shtml.

“I’m proud of the commitment we have made to broadband and of our consistent ranking as one of the best broadband states, but part of the reason we aren’t quite at the top of the rankings is we face a challenge that is seen across the nation – improving access in our rural areas,” said Markell.

“So we made rural expansion of high-speed broadband a priority in the new Delaware Broadband Fund, and now we will begin to realize the benefits throughout this region, from schools and libraries, to health care facilities and places that provide government services. And the additional benefits will be far-reaching, starting with the jobs created through the construction phase, and continuing with better access for businesses, farms, and homes.”

A grant of about $2 million will be awarded to one or more private companies that offer the best plans to use the new fiber line to reach underserved Delawareans. They must reach key sites, like those Markell mentioned.

Reaffirming the theme of his State of the State address in January, Markell has emphasized that the ability to access cutting-edge information technology at higher speeds is essential to every industry in the state, and through initiatives like this broadband expansion, the state will fully unleash its economic potential. The Governor noted that online tools and resources exponentially increase the possibilities to advance education, careers, well-being, and public safety, but that also means that there is a clear dividing line between those who have access to high-speed broadband and those who don’t. According to the FCC’s Eighth Broadband Progress Report, released in August 2012, of the 19 million Americans who live where fixed broadband is unavailable, 14.5 million live in rural areas.

“The critical fiber line that has just been completed will introduce significantly enhanced broadband access into this area to support not only State and municipal offices, but private industry and non-profits as well,” said Secretary Sills, whose Department leads the state’s broadband expansion efforts. “Today’s announcement focuses on expanding on the project with additional investment in Sussex County to make Delaware the leading state for broadband.”

Funding for the grant comes from the Delaware Broadband Fund, established last year by House Bill 96, which was sponsored by Representative Darryl Scott (D-Dover) and Senator Brian Bushweller (D-Dover). The legislation provides that the Fund will support and enhance rural broadband initiatives in under-served areas of the State, as well as broadband access at public schools and public libraries.

“The project announced today is what we had in mind when creating the Delaware Broadband Fund – to see the first investment being made in healthcare is exciting,” said Rep. Scott, who took part in the event at La Red. “It provides La Red access to electronic medical records and other information and services that can save lives and make the delivery of healthcare more cost effective.”

The expansion of broadband in Sussex County will allow for an increase in access speeds from 1.5 MB to potentially 10GB, with most users expected to opt for between 10MB and 100MB.

“Broadband is an important economic engine for the 21st Century,” said Sen. Bushweller. “With this expansion, we’re delivering on our commitment to improve our quality of life by ensuring more cost-effective health care for our citizens.”

La Red CEO Brian Olson participated in the announcement, highlighting the benefits that the health center has already realized through telemedicine and the opportunities that the improved broadband service would offer for enhancing medical care for underserved populations through remote access to specialists. Attendees, who also included legislators supportive of HB 96, received a tour that focused on the Health Center’s telemedicine capabilities.

“It’s great news for Sussex County. Broadband is one of the engines that drives economic growth and learning, and there are far too many places in Sussex County that don’t have access,” said Sen. Brian Pettyjohn (R-Georgetown), who attended today’s announcement. “As a result, many Sussex County children are currently at a disadvantage because they don’t have the internet access that schools assume all children have these days. It also puts businesses at a huge disadvantage.”

“We have been working to expand broadband access throughout Sussex County for quite some time now in order to improve the overall quality of life in the area, as well as attract new business ventures,” said Rep. Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown), a member of the Sussex Broadband Working Group who also attended today’s announcement. “I am excited about this latest initiative, which is one more step in an ongoing process of providing much-needed broadband capabilities in those more remote areas of the county.”