Orange County Broadband Initiative Moves Forward

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High speed Internet access is on its way to areas of Orange County.  

Work on a new broadband project is expected to be underway in the upcoming months.

"Construction should start any day now. The permits are in place, or at least a lot of permits are already in place and we anticipate the project being finished by June 30 2018," said Darrell Hatfield, director of technology at Orange County Public Schools.

Orange County Public Schools were awarded a federal grant of almost $1 million in June from the E-rate program.
The grant is awarded to schools and libraries that qualify for telecommunication purposes.

Under the program, Orange County Public Schools will be reimbursed 70 percent for the construction of the broadband project and the county government covering the remaining costs.

The school system currently relies on internet from a local telecommunications provider that only allows 300 Megs of connectivity to each of its facilities.

In addition to being constricted on how much internet access the schools can have, the current internet service provider has proved to be a tremendous expense to the school system. 

“It'll save us a bunch of money, because we do pay a lot of money to our telecommunications provider to get this connectivity to all of our schools … So that's one thing, but the most important thing is that it will provide us with pretty much unlimited bandwidth to meet the needs of our students,” said Hatfield.

Once new fiber lines are installed, the school system will no longer lease from a local provider and each building will have connection speeds of up to 10 gigs.

The new fiber lines will stretch about 35 miles connecting all schools to the central office. 

Hatfield tells us that some permits are already in place and construction should start any day now.

This grant will lay the foundation for future internet plans in the Orange community and act as an additive to programs that are already in place.

“Through the partnership that we’ve been able to establish with the county, we can expand that service out beyond the schools to the community and that’s what’s really important about this project. We reached out to the county early on to ask if they were interested in partnering with us when we knew that we had this opportunity and we think that it’ll expand way beyond the classrooms to the community and that’s what’s going to be very important for Orange county,” said Brenda Tanner, Orange County Public Schools superintendent. 
School officials say the project connecting all county schools should be finished by July of 2018.