MCNC is expanding its North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) and will use products from CommScope. The network was originally built with CommScope equipment. 

MCNC is expanding the network through the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative (GLRBI) and is using two U.S. Department of Commerce Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) awards from last year to fund the expansion.

The BTOP awards total $104 million, supplemented by $42 million in private matching funds, as required by the federal program. The majority of these funds will be spent with private sector engineering, construction, materials and technology companies that will assist with the build.

The expansion of NCREN includes more than 2,000 miles of new fiber through 69 counties in North Carolina. Currently, about 85 miles of conduit for Round 1 are complete in southeastern and western North Carolina.

CommScope was selected in August to provide materials for the first-round expansion of NCREN. The round-one build encompasses construction of 407 miles of high-speed fiber optics in 37 counties in southeastern and western North Carolina.

CommScope's first-round contract was estimated at $2.5 million. This latest contract is estimated at $14 million and is slated to construct approximately 1,500 miles of new fiber through northeastern, north central, northwest, south central and central North Carolina, CommScope said.

The project will build a fiber-optic broadband delivery infrastructure that serves community anchor institutions (K-12 schools, community colleges, universities, libraries, public health and public safety facilities, and non-profit and university hospitals) statewide. Consumers and small businesses along the fiber build will be reached with enhanced broadband service through commercial telecommunications and cable providers with which MCNC has formed partnerships.

The network has the potential to serve more than 1,500 anchor institutions, 180,000 businesses and more than 300,000 underserved families.