Motor vehicles aren't all that are crossing the new Champlain Bridge between Crown Point and Addison, Vt.

The bridge has 3,300 feet of fiber-optic cable imbedded in it, part of a plan to take state-of-the-art broadband Internet and data service to rural communities.

DELAYED

The cable was installed by Albany-based ION (Independent Optical Network) and Crown Point Network Technologies, a Crown Point Telephone Co. subsidiary.

ION President and Chief Executive Officer James Becker said his firm was about to install fiber-optic cable beneath the old bridge when it was condemned in October 2009. It was demolished in December 2009, and construction of a new bridge ended with its opening in November this year.

The firm had to wait for work on the new span to end in order to put the cable in.

FEDERALLY FUNDED

Local phone companies and wireless carriers will resell the fiber-optic network to residential and commercial customers, Becker said in a news release.

He said ION's "largest growth area is wireless, building (fiber-optic lines) to towers for the cellular providers."

The entire network ION is installing

will be in Vermont, New York and Pennsylvania and is ahead of budget and on schedule, Becker said.

A $39.7 million federal economic stimulus grant was used to fund the entire project, 1,300 miles of fiber-optic lines, with $1.3 million of that going to the bridge conduit installation and its connection to Crown Point Telephone Co. four miles away.

The next step is to connect the cable all the way to Burlington, by the end of 2012. Another section will cross from Whitehall to Rutland, Vt.

HOSPITAL LINKS

One potential customer for the new network is Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, which could be connected to the facility it manages in Ticonderoga, Moses-Ludington Hospital.

Elizabethtown Community Hospital and CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh could also utilize the data-network part of the system, ION officials said.

Fiber-optic cable already follows the Canadian Pacific Railway rail bed from Albany to Montreal, installed by PrimeLink of Champlain, a subsidiary of Champlain Telephone Co.

WORKED TOGETHER

Crown Point Telephone and Network Technologies President Shana Macey said her firm was asked by ION to assist.

"We ran fiber from our central office to the fiber on the bridge. The fiber to the bridge is ours."

PrimeLink put the fiber on the bridge for ION, she said.

"I thought it was really exciting that two small, independent telephone companies could be involved for the purposes of broadband, which is important across the nation right now. We're glad we could be part of it."

4G SPEED

ION spokeswoman Jo Ann LeSage Nelson said their grant had a three-year deadline.

"ION had to get a new agreement and install the fiber-optic cable in record time, mere months, because the fiber had to be installed before traffic started flowing.

"This $1.3 million project will provide access to more bandwidth, providing 4G LTE (fourth-generation long-term evolution) service, resulting in better connectivity at an affordable cost for the region."

CELL SERVICE

Nelson said 4G LTE cellular is as fast as wired broadband.

The line will greatly enhance cellular-phone service, she said.

"Because cell towers require land access to big fiber-optic pipes, more robust cell service will be available as a result of this project."

Each cable has 24 to 96 strands of glass, and one strand can carry 40 data streams simultaneously using DWDM (dense wave division multiplexing).

The lines will carry broadband Internet access to hospitals, schools and other facilities, as well as high-speed data transmission.

Email Lohr McKinstry at: lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

Trending Video

Recommended for you