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D.C. gets 100 gigabit network, maybe politicos will finally get broadband

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Washington D.C. went live with the first link of a 100-gigabit network Wednesday. The new network, called the D.C. Community Access Network (DC-CAN), will provide links out to communities east of the Anacostia River, but the ultra-high-speed network will soon serve the entire District.

Unlike what Google is building in Kansas City, this isn’t crazy-fast fiber to the home; it’s a city-owned, middle mile, network link other providers can tap into in order to deliver faster broadband to homes and businesses. The 100-gigabit fiber network will connect out to the big long-haul networks run by Level 3 Communications (s lvlt) and other providers, offering a way for existing or new ISPs to connect to the larger web. In many areas, these middle mile links are owned by AT&T (s T) and Verizon (s vz), and it can be expensive, difficult or impossible to connect out to them.

So while the network may not seem fabulous today, it most decidedly could be. Already, 24 community anchor institutions such as libraries, schools and other municipal buildings are connected to the 100-gig network. As the network expands, the city hopes to link up to 199 more. And having a low-cost, middle mile network could entice other service providers to hook up D.C. homes and businesses with faster broadband access. The network was funded in part by federal broadband stimulus funds and is expected to be complete by 2013.

While many of the nation’s politicians don’t live in D.C. proper, I would love for this type of network to act as a showcase for how important the Internet can be for the average citizen. In many ways, it seems like the Web and technology industry speak a completely different language than politicos. Perhaps better broadband could help bridge that gap.

7 Responses to “D.C. gets 100 gigabit network, maybe politicos will finally get broadband”

    • Well, if “The network was funded in part by federal broadband stimulus funds”, then yes, it is being built with tax payer money, at least partially. And yes, in direct competition with the private sector. Feel free to go to town on the policy implications. :-)

    • Yes both federal dollars (via stimulus) and local tax dollars. Many other state’s have used federal dollars to build fiber networks (eg. Eg. Maine’s Three Ring Binder).

      • Christopher Estep

        Maryland’s own SAILOR (which is owned entirely by the State of Maryland) was expeanded via three grants (two from the United States government- primarily via the E-RATE program, which is designed primarily for educational institutions and public libraries) and a third from (get this) the Verizon Foundation. That is despite SAILOR competing indirectly with VZ. (The additional backbone used by SAILOR is along the ROW of major highways in the state, and was laid under a rather innovative cooperative venture between the State Highway Administration and Level 3 Communications. (Maine’s Three Ring Binder layout – which isn’t done yet – was planned using the Maryland SHA/Level3 venture as a base.)

  1. Dennis Paine

    Denizens of DC you don’t know how fortunate you are!

    I live in eastern San Diego County, CA and can access a fiber link at the local library . . . when it’s open. At home access is over a satellite link with uplink at dialup speeds.

    Will AT&T allow access to this fiber? NO!
    Will AT&T install digital remote CO access? NO, but we get to pay the same rates as our wealthier neighbors who are farther from the CO, have a digital access & DSL, and even have WIFI on the utility poles.

  2. Alex Lavr

    DC internet sucks. I live in DC in Ward and can only get comcast. With the promotional rate I pay $110 for cable + slow internet. There is no other decent ISP I can get. We need actual competition.

  3. Brett – It looks like you yourself have an agenda.

    This is not necessarily going to undermine ISPs. Eg. A small local WiFi provider like DCAccess could use the network.

    ” DC-CAN will offer cost-effective services to organizations, local Internet service providers, carriers, and others providing last mile services to residents and businesses in the District.”


    Stacey – have you seen how DC has deployed public WiFi in addition based off the DC-CAN/DC-NET network? They’re getting pretty heavily used as coverage has drastically improved in the last year. (Putting outdoor antennas up has done most of it).