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Broadband Deployment

BRACY – Buggs Island Telephone Cooperative (BIT) announced a September 15 official commercial launch date for their 4G WiMAX broadband network.

“The new fixed wireless broadband network, in south central Virginia, will include broadband service packages for businesses up to 10 mbps and residential customers of 1.5 mbps and higher,” a July 12 press release stated. “BIT and Airspan met the requirement to be 'substantially complete' for the project by having completed the build-out of two-thirds of the sites by March 31, 2012.”

BIT will service Buckingham, Cumberland, Prince Edward, Charlotte, Amelia, Nottoway, Brunswick, Halifax, Lunenburg, Greensville, Southampton, Sussex, Isle of Wight and Surry counties as well as South Hill, South Boston, Farmville, Emporia, Franklin and Smithville.

“The new broadband network, powered by Airspan Networks 4G infra-structure, offers high-speed connectivity to previously underserved areas,” the press release states. “The September 15th launch marks the completion of the first and primary deployment phase, which has taken a mere 12 months to complete, and will eventually serve 100 percent of the geographic area in the 15 counties comprising the BIT FCC-licensed serving area and a projected subscriber base of upwards of 19,200 customers within a five year period.”

The release also states, “As it gears up to launch this $23 million network, BIT is pleased to have met all of the mandates and requirements and the tight schedule demands as set forth by the United States Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) as one of the conditions of the U.S. Government's broadband stimulus grant regulations. The BIT wireless broadband initiative…project is made possible by BIT's commitment to serve the citizens and businesses of the area and two grants which include a government broadband stimulus award of $18.9 million…by the United State Department of Commerce as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and a $3.9 million…grant from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission-which is being used exclusively by BIT for the purchase of the wireless broadband infrastructure equipment. BIT has contributed over $1.5 million…with the Cooperative's licenses, 'in-kind' contributions, and working capital.”

The press release noted that “…BIT has experienced significant delays in rolling out the service in areas where the project is substantially complete due to the unique challenges of the WiMAX firmware and software optimization. BIT and Airspan have been working diligently with KZ Technologies to overcome the software issues encountered in their Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) and have been able to achieve satisfactory results of late.”

The press release notes, “The launch date was dependent on completion of and testing of the necessary upgrades.”

“The BIT team is excited about the much anticipated upcoming launch date of this network and being capable to offer our broadband services to our community,” commented Mickey L. Sims, general manager at BIT. “With the support of the AARA and Virginia Tobacco Commission funding programs, we have been able to realize our vision of building the first phase of this network for increasing broadband services in these underserved markets. However, we are disappointed the KZ Technology software/firmware was not ready in March and that our deployment was not implemented at that time. We look forward to finally being able to offer our service to the south central Virginia community and to further expand into rural Virginia.”

It was noted in the release, “This next generation dual-band network operates in both 700 megahertz (MHz) and 3.65 gigahertz (GHz) frequency bands.”

Airspan Networks' Amit Ancikovsky, president of products and sales commented in the release, “Airspan is very proud of this project and is pleased to have played a role in delivering the long-awaited broadband to these Virginia counties. Airspan is able to provide BIT with a turnkey solution that is quick-to-deploy, cost effective and will maximize the network's return on investment,” he added.

The press release notes, “BIT is committed to bringing broadband services to the 299,375 people, 102,400 households, 15,100 businesses and 834 community anchor institutions in south central Virginia.”