Idaho expands broadband

Syringa Networks

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Eighty percent of the population in southern Idaho will have Internet broadband

connectivity by year's end, according to a representative from Syringa Networks,

a consortium of a dozen independent telecommunications companies that is

spearheading the initiative.

The prospect of providing affordable high-speed Internet access for

residents and businesses will greatly boost economic development, said Rick

Gerrard, Syringa's sales and marketing manager.

Although there are pockets of Digital Subscriber Line service in the

region, the development of the $36 million network — an interconnected series

of fiber-optic cable rings totaling 1,400 miles — will provide much better

and faster connections, he said.

It will benefit populations from Boise to McCall, 90 miles to the north,

and out to the eastern border toward St. Anthony. When completed, it could

serve up to 150,000 people.

Early last year, the state legislature passed a 3-percent tax credit

for companies investing in broadband technology to help provide additional

equity for the project. The consortium also is getting financial assistance

from a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that provides loans and loan

guarantees for rural broadband deployment.

Nortel Networks has provided three multiservice switches — its Passport

15000-VSS product — said Errol Binda, a senior Nortel manager for product

marketing. The advantage is these switches support multiple data applications

and services and can be deployed on Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Frame

Relay, IP, and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS).

"It's not only providing connectivity, but the key thing is the preservation

of the qualities of service," he said, referring to a network's performance.

"What ATM as an infrastructure gives you ... [is that it] ensures high quality

connections for things like video and voice. Without that ATM layer, you

don't have the ability to efficiently use that."

Performance is important in a rural area, he said, especially as the

potential and need for telemedicine and distance education applications

increases.

Binda said Nortel, which is helping Syringa deploy the technology, will

provide additional multiservice switches as the network is developed further.

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