Delaware awards $1M grant for faster internet [video]

 (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

(AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

A news conference announcing a million dollar grant from the state of Delaware to boost internet access in Sussex County was smartly streamed online.

The Rochester, NY-based company Fibertech Networks was awarded $1 million to provide high speed broadband and improve connectivity in Sussex County.

“Our lives have been so transformed by the internet,” said Gov. Jack Markell during today’s announcement at Burris Logistics in Milford. “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.”

The 36 miles of new fiber optic network infrastructure is expected to not only increase speeds in previously underserved areas, but Markell added it also helps to address the growing issue of income inequality in the country.

“If we don’t understand the value that high-speed broadband plays in terms of economic development, that gap between rich and poor is going to get only significantly worse,” Markell said. “The opportunities available to those people who have access to high-speed broadband are fundamentally different and fundamentally better than the opportunities that are available to people who don’t.”

Construction of the new network infrastructure will build on last year’s completion of a fiber line between Middletown and Georgetown, which was spearheaded by the state’s Dept. of Technology and Information and funded by the Delaware Economic Development Office. Legislation passed in 2013 created a fund to support initiatives that enhance broadband expansion in rural parts of the state, as well as at public schools and public libraries. 

“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,” said Delaware Chief Information Officer James Collins, who leads DTI.

Fibertech, which already operates more than 300 miles of fiber optic network throughout the state, will build 18 miles of new network to Seaford in the west and 18 miles of new network to Lewes on the east. Both network segments will connect in Georgetown and become part of the company’s existing network infrastructure.

“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, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Fibertech. “We look forward to bringing these same capabilities to Sussex County and other areas.”

As one of the nation’s largest temperature-controlled food distribution companies, Burris took advantage of the additional fiber installed in Delaware a year ago to support company operations. Chief Information Officer Ed Krupka stressed the critical nature of the business’s data communication network.  

“Our team members at every location depend upon the systems and the network that we provide,” said Ed Krupka, Burris’ chief information officer. “Every task that our team members perform to serve our customers is driven because of the network and the power of it.”

Delaware was recently recognized by Akamai, an internet service provider, for providing the best high-speed broadband internet access in the country, ranking third worldwide.

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