RCN Metro, the metro fiber division of RCN Business (NASDAQ:RCNI, news, filings), announced today that it has been selected by OpenCape to build and operate a fiber network hooking up Cape Cod and southeastern Massachussetts to Boston and Providence. The network, as currently planned, would span 300 miles and look something like this:
The new fiber rings will connect to RCN’s regional and metro networks at their PoPs in Brockton and Providence, and extend all the way out to Provincetown. Connectivity to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket will be handled via microwave of course. The build itself will consist of a combination of newly installed aerial and buried fiber. A fair amount of fiber in the northeast remains aerial of course, due to the age and density of the roads and other infrastructure.
Of course, it’s not a done deal yet. OpenCape first will be applying for a $40M Broadband Technology Opportunity Grant (BTOP) via the stimulus funds to fund the project. RCN Metro had competition – there were apparently 10 bidders for the project – had two big factors going for it. First, RCN has a large presence in Boston, both for its main cable business and for the Metro division. Second, it has the Neon assets in both Massachussetts and Rhode Island outside the main cities which will provide something of a launching pad that others may not have.
But this is the kind of application that regional fiber providers will probably be hoping to use stimulus funds for: expansion into adjacent markets which could be lucrative over time but for which the upfront costs may be too large to justify right now. Once installed, however, RCN Metro will have some nice unique routes. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see similar projects come to light over the next month or two across the country.
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