Fredericksburg, Va., OKs Broadband Internet Expansion

The unanimous council vote allows provider, Tenebris Fiber, to install fiber-optic infrastructure in the city’s public rights-of-way.

by Cathy Jett, The Free Lance-Star / December 3, 2018

(TNS) — The city council took more steps last week toward its goal of providing Fredericksburg with the fastest broadband Internet in Virginia.

It unanimously voted Tuesday to speed up approval of a 10-year, non-exclusive franchise to Tenebris Fiber LLC to build and maintain the city school system’s wide-area network before federal funding for the project expires. The agreement allows the dark-fiber provider to install fiber-optic infrastructure in the city’s public rights-of-way.

“Once this project is complete, all Fredericksburg schools will have dedicated fiber for Internet, VoIP, Security/ Access Control, and Intranet communication,” Michael George, the school system’s director of technology, wrote in an email.

“In addition, we are excited to be working with Tenebris Fiber since it is a Virginia-based dark fiber provider that is working on a larger Virginia build, which will eventually run from Ashburn to Virginia Beach,” he said. “Being in the center of this build will give us many more options for our increased Internet bandwidth requirements in the upcoming years.”

The schools project will be Tenebris’ first in the city. School officials requested for proposals for the wide-area network and related services in February 2017, with the primary goal being “to secure the most reliable, efficient, and cost-effective WAN for students and teachers in FCPS,” George said.

The School Board awarded Freedom Telecom Services, which is now owned by Tenebris Fiber, a contract in April 2017 that paid the firm $583,561 for construction and $1,750 per year for maintenance of the school-owned WAN.

Ninety percent of the cost is being paid through the Federal Communication Commission’s school and library E-rate Program, which will expire if the project is not finished by June 30. The rest will come from a Virginia Public School Authority program to help schools establish a computer-based instructional and testing system for standards of learning and to increase high-speed Internet connectivity and student access to computers.

The council also unanimously approved a 10-year, non-exclusive franchise with NewPath Networks LLC to install small-cell wireless facilities and fiber-optic cables. The project will enhance wireless connectivity and expand wired broadband access.

A second vote is required for the franchise, and the council scheduled that for Dec. 11.

While Tenebris is a dark fiber provider offering infrastructure in several major markets in Virginia, NewPath Networks is a wireless infrastructure company that designs, develops and operates fiber-fed wireless carrier networks. It customers include wireless carriers, wired and wireless Internet service providers, university campuses and stadiums. It is a subsidiary of Crown Castle, the nation’s largest provider of wireless infrastructure.

The Public Works Department will review all installations under the agreements. Both franchises cover the entire city, but do not allow installations on city facilities — those would still need to be negotiated as separate agreements.

©2018 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.