Appalachian Valley Fiber Network has added more than 180 miles of high-capacity fiber optic cable and electronics to a network that, upon completion, will include more than 500 miles of infrastructure connected to major international hubs in Atlanta and Chattanooga.
“This is essentially a concrete bunker. The roof could blow off and this building within a building will still be standing,” said David Parker of Parker Fibernet. “Literally thousands of fiber connections leave this building and connect to other communities.”
Parker is the founder of AVFN, a public-private partnership that relied on a $21 million federal stimulus package grant and a $6 million local match in the form of his existing network. AFVN is carrier-neutral network open for interconnection by any provider.
The network being built includes connections to so-called community anchor institutions — schools, health care facilities, governments and major industries — and with companies that provide service to homes and small businesses.
The new headquarters complex for the Rome-Floyd County Fire Department and Floyd County Emergency Management Agency is now linked, as are Polk County schools and its hospital. Service providers Cartersville Fibercom and the city of Calhoun’s Calnet also have agreements to connect their lines. Parker likened AVFN to an interstate highway system, as opposed to surface streets used by local traffic.
“We’re building the piece you’ve got to have so folks can come in and speed up your system,” he said.
The speed has to do with capacity, redundancy and symmetrical bandwidth, which means subscribers can upload files as fast as they can download them. That’s especially important for entities such as Harbin Clinic that send and receive large images and data files, according to Ken Carlton, vice president of strategic planning.
“A lot of operations also have critical records that flow internally, not on the public Internet,” Carlton said. “The capability to interconnect all their locations also makes the region more attractive to industries that wouldn’t have considered this area before.”
AFVN Grant Administrator Deana Perry said the purpose of the public-private partnership — why the federal stimulus package provided funding — is to extend the existing network into under-served rural areas.
Doctors’ offices in Armuchee, the Chattooga County libraries and local factories of national or international industries are now able to link quickly and reliably with their more centrally located headquarters. The Floyd County Jail can now conduct video arraignments via its connection, she said.
“Even though the connections are very important, and some of these people were willing to pay more for them, the economics of building fiber out there did not make sense (from a purely business standpoint),” Parker noted.
The extensions also link Parker’s existing but unconnected fiber to provide redundancy, which means there’s more than one pathway for the data to travel if one route is blocked.
And the network can handle a nearly unimaginable amount of information all at once.
“We have enough bandwidth to move the entire Library of Congress in five seconds,” Parker said.
Points of Presence have been established in Rome, Cartersville, Cedartown, Rockmart, Douglasville and Buchanan. Construction is continuing in Chattooga County and is scheduled to begin in the next 60 days in Walker County and along U.S. Highway 78 to Anniston, Ala.
AVFN is on schedule to complete the network months ahead of its July 2013 mandated deadline. The initial project called for construction of 185 miles of construction. AVFN will be able to build at least 250 miles with the same funds, Carlton said.