By Kimberley Donoghue
PBN Web Editor
PROVIDENCE – OSHEAN, the nonprofit consortium of local organizations building a high-capacity broadband network throughout Rhode Island, has selected Cox Business to install and maintain the 48-strand fiber-optic network.
The network, dubbed Beacon 2.0, will connect nonprofit anchor institutions - hospitals, colleges, universities, government agencies, schools and libraries – in every city and town in Rhode Island, except New Shoreham. It aims to provide "affordable" broadband service to nonprofits.
Cox Business, a division of Cox Communications, will begin installing the network in May and expects to complete the project in spring 2013. Cox’s contract with OSHEAN is initially for 20 years and can be extended up to another 20 years.
Cox declined to disclose the financial details of the agreement.
“In just two short years we will have built a robust network infrastructure that will benefit our member institutions and the citizens and communities they serve,” said George Loftus, OSHEAN president and CEO.
OSHEAN, the Ocean State Higher Education Economic Development and Administrative Network, was formed in 1999 and recently received $21.7 million from the American Recovery & Revitalization Act’s Federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, which was matched by $10.7 million in private funding.
Cox noted that OSHEAN received the funds for projects in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but its agreement only pertains to Rhode Island.
OSHEAN currently has 90 miles of fiber optic cable, which it plans to expand into 339 miles of network.
Beacon 2.0 will have a capacity of 400 gigabits per second, allowing elementary and secondary schools to connect at 1 gigabit per second or 50 times faster than the average speed at a Rhode Island home, while universities and hospitals will be able to reach speeds up to 10 gigabits per second.