“We’ll be testing different segments in July and August,” said Ken Carlton of Appalachian Valley Fiber Network. “When we turn one on ... we’ll have a kind of ribbon-cutting and explain the advantages to the whole community.”
The Rome-based AVFN is a spinoff of Parker FiberNet in Summerville, which put up its existing fiber optic network as the local match for a $21 million federal stimulus package grant.
It’s a public-private partnership, so any Internet provider may connect to the middle-mile fiber being installed in 12 counties. The network is designed to provide service to schools, libraries, community and technical colleges, government, health care and public safety organizations.
“The level of service the AVFN network will provide enables our region to match or exceed the broadband speed and capacity of virtually any metropolitan area in the country,” said Parker owner David Parker.
Carlton said there are no signed contracts with last-mile providers yet — the utilities that serve private homes and businesses — but there are tentative agreements with at least three he’s not ready to officially announce.
Parker will be one, of course. The AFVN website also lists Cal-Net in Calhoun, Fibercom in Cartersville, Trenton Telephone Co. in Trenton and Chickamauga Telephone as “private partners” and network supporters.
The grant award called for 185 miles of fiber optics, but Deanna Perry of AVFN said a variety of “efficiencies” in construction and purchasing means at least 210 miles in Northwest Georgia and 40 miles in Eastern Alabama will be installed. The company has finished 175 miles so far.
“The total combined network, upon completion, will include over 500 miles of fiber optic infrastructure in the region,” she said.
The network will add the capacity needed for activities such as tele-medicine, remote medical imaging and electronic medical record transmissions, she said, and improve signal strengths. It also provides redundancy — different pathways to major data centers in Atlanta, Chattanooga and beyond.
“One of our goals is for the AVFN Network to be a catalyst and a community asset for job creation, and to enhance this region’s ability to compete for jobs in the technology, manufacturing and medical sectors,” Parker said.
Partners in the project include the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, Alabama Broadband Initiative, the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission and the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute.