Orange County gains FTTH network to keep rural users connected

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The Orange County Broadband Authority (OCBA) is connecting residents in the predominantly rural region with its own fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network, after experiencing difficulty finding an ISP to service the area.

The authority, under its provider status, selected Adtran’s Total Access 5000 (TA5000) fibre access platform to bring broadband internet services to its community. 

In 2019, the OCBA surveyed its residents and businesses and found that 92 per cent of respondents were dissatisfied with their current internet bandwidth speeds. More than 40 per cent of students said that they did not have reliable access in their homes to complete schoolwork and only 7.5 per cent reported speeds greater than 25Mb/s. This year’s Covid-19 pandemic escalated the need to connect residents, supporting the OCBA’s decision to become its own ISP. 

Through its ReConnect program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded more than $744m in funds during March to support more than 80 broadband projects benefiting more than 430,000 rural residents in 34 states. In June the department partnered with the General Services Administration to finalise a revised Standard Form (SF-299) to make it applicable to support rural broadband. The deployment in Orange County is part of a GSA contract.

The provider is leveraging the TA5000 platform to build an efficient broadband access architecture using high-capacity XGS-PON to offer internet connection speeds up to 10G. This allows better support of remote learning and work-from-home employees, and will enable residents to connect to telehealth services and avoid commuting nearly an hour to the nearest hospitals. With more than 20 per cent of the population over 65, the OCBA saw this as a key demographic it wanted to better serve with its new network. Additionally, it is hoped that the high-speed services will attract new economic and recruiting advantages to the local industrial park.

Lewis Foster, broadband program manager at the OCBA said: ‘Since the OCBA’s network is a greenfield deployment, we wanted to minimise the number of network equipment vendors, allow for future capacity and minimise the cost associated with operating the network. With Adtran’s fibre access platform, we are able to leverage our resources in the most efficient and cost-saving way while advancing the economy and quality of life for subscribers in our area.;

Craig Stein, vice president of sales for Americas and head of global business development at Adtran added: ‘High-speed broadband is a vital resource no longer reserved for urban environments. Communities across rural America are working to bring the benefits of broadband to their neighborhoods, farms, manufacturers, schools and businesses. It’s exciting to see utilities and individual counties, like Orange County, Va., make it a priority to bring affordable and reliable broadband services to their customers.’

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