Fiber optic cables to bring high-speed Internet to schools, universities

Hundreds of miles of fiber optic cable is being laid next to North Carolina highways to bring high-speed Internet access to schools and universities.

This week, crews are burying the cable alongside US 74 in Union and Anson counties.The North Carolina Research and Education Network will link state universities and colleges, private and community colleges, and local schools on an information sharing network.Students will also have access to high-speed Internet for free.

The project, organized by a nonprofit group called the Microelectronics Center for North Carolina, is funded by two U.S. Department of Commerce Broadband Technology Opportunities Program awards and $40 million that MCNC raised in private matching funds.One of the project’s hubs will be built at Southern Piedmont Community College’s campus in Polkton.Employees there are excited about the changes it will bring to the rural community.”It will allow more online tutoring sessions, streaming online video — it’s going to be a huge improvement in Internet service,” said SPCC’s Rosemary Britt.Local students will be able to link up to the network this spring.