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Arlington To Extend County Fiber Optic Network To Businesses

Fiber optic networks offer much faster speed than conventional broadband.
Fiber optic networks offer much faster speed than conventional broadband.

Officials in Arlington are making their pitch to transform the county into a high-tech hub by announcing the expansion of their fiber optic network to area businesses and federal agencies.

The program, called ConnectArlington, is a dedicated high-speed broadband network currently used to connect county facilities and Arlington County Public Schools. County officials say leasing the unused or "dark" fiber to the private sector will make the county more attractive to businesses that require greater Internet speeds and bandwidth

"Arlington will be the only place for businesses to receive this level of service and security and will be the only place offering such dedicated lines to the nation’s top defense and research organizations," said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette. "The opportunities ConnectArlington gives Arlington businesses are endless; we anticipate this game-changing infrastructure will attract jobs and innovative investments to our community."

Traditional commercial options like T1 lines offer "managed" fiber, where the speed and fidelity of data is limited by bandwidth allocation and the number of other users sharing the fiber. Just how much faster ConnectArlington is for users depends on the network equipment used, but the county boasts of speeds "at least 100 times greater" than those that are currently offered by existing Internet providers.

Arlington will tap a third-party consultant to manage the leasing of the fiber networks and to ensure that it's easily available. Plans call for the service to be rolled out by early 2015.

"This program of leasing dark fiber to local businesses sets Arlington apart from neighboring communities as well as nationally and globally," says Sally Duran, Arlington Economic Development Commission Chair.

D.C. boasts its own high-speed fiber optic network, but it has not yet been made available to businesses.

While businesses will be able to make use of the county's dark fiber, it is not being made available to residents as a replacement for traditional Internet service providers. A number of legal statutes stand in the way (PDF) of local governments that want to supply municipal broadband in Virginia, and the county has not signalled its intention to do so.


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