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viNGN Hooks Up First Community Anchor Institution

The Virgin Islands Next Generation Network has connected its first community anchor institution and public computer center served from its Frederiksted fiber access point. The high-speed service will soon be available to local Internet service providers, according to Lawrence J. Kupfer, president and CEO of the network.

The Community Anchor Institution and Public Computer Center that has been connected is the Athalie McFarlane Petersen Public Library, and the library’s Internet service provider should complete its connection to the viNGN network later this week, Kupfer said in a statement released Monday by Government House.

The viNGN Public Computer Center, which is provided in partnership with the library, will allow the public to experience firsthand the capabilities of viNGN’s high-speed network, Kupfer said. The 100-percent fiber optic network will enable ISPs to offer the highest Internet speeds available in the territory.

Kupfer said “a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held when the remaining community anchor institutions in Frederiksted have been connected, and the CAI’s and PCC’s have obtained service through an Internet service provider.”

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The viNGN is a corporate subsidiary of the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority. The PFA is responsible for oversight of the development of the “middle mile” fiber network and the PCC and SBA programs.

Under the federal government’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, community anchor institutions include all schools, universities, medical and health care facilities, public safety entities, community support organizations and other government facilities. In total, viNGN plans to connect 316 community anchor institutions throughout the territory, according to Government House.

Gov. John deJongh Jr. said he was pleased that viNGN’s network is ready to begin serving the institutions, calling them "a critical component of President Obama’s National Broadband Plan."

“I want to thank the viNGN staff and its contractors for their hard work over the last few months to make access to the high speed network a reality,” the governor said.

viNGN’s network will continue to expand as it completes fiber access points around the territory and as the management team continues discuss with local ISPs interested in using viNGN’s high-speed fiber-optic cable network to service commercial and residential customers.

The fiber optic cables will run along all major roads in the territory, with local internet service providers able to connect to the network and sell higher capacity Internet access to their customers on the retail market at a lower price.

Also, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has provided viNGN with the final approvals for the extension of the territory’s Comprehensive Community Infrastructure Grant, which allows the project to carry out all remaining program activities through to Dec. 31, with program/grant close-out activities, including the ability to seek reimbursements for expenditures, extending through March 31, according to Monday’s Government House news release.

The NTIA has provided the final approvals for the extension of the territory’s Public Computer Center and Sustainable Broadband Adoption Grants, which extend the projects to carry out all remaining program activities through to Sept. 30, 2014.

These extensions will allow viNGN to continue to offer free Digital Literacy, IT-related, business-related and a wide range of other training at its Public Computer Centers and online.

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