Horizon Telcom, Inc.

Connecting Appalachian Ohio Middle Mile Consortium

The economically distressed rural regions of the southern and eastern Ohio foothills lack sufficient access to fiber-based broadband service. Led by Horizon Telcom, the Connecting Appalachian Ohio Middle Mile Consortium proposes to construct 1,960 new miles of fiber, more than doubling the fiber in the service area and bringing middle-mile speeds of up to 10 Gbps to 34 targeted counties. The project also plans to bring high-capacity services to approximately 600 regional community anchor institutions, including 25 community colleges, 15 universities, 231 K-12 schools, 34 county 911 answering points, 212 healthcare facilities, and 34 industrial parks, with the potential to reach thousands more. Horizon Telcom states that more than 80 percent of community anchors in the area currently lack fiber-based broadband, while others lack the necessary broadband speeds to match their needs. The project also proposes to interconnect with the networks of BTOP awardees OneCommunity and ComNet, providing a far-reaching solution to Appalachian Ohio’s broadband needs.

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BTOP In Action
Construction workers listen as Horizon’s CEO Bill McKell delivers a speech

On May 23, 2011, Horizon Telcom began the construction phase of the Connecting Appalachia project with a kickoff event in Logan, Ohio. The event, which was held outside a healthcare facility that will receive improved service as a result of the project, started with construction workers installing a single utility pole to launch the building of a 1,960-mile broadband network.

As recently as late August, construction crews have added more than 100 miles of fiber-optic lines and connected 178 community anchor institutions to the network, including other medical facilities, schools, higher education institutions, industrial parks, county courthouses, and public safety coordination centers. This network currently extends over 13 counties, with plans to reach 34 counties once complete, and it is estimated to deliver middle-mile speeds of up to 10 Gbps.

The Connecting Appalachia project’s new network runs through an extremely rural, low-income region that includes areas with mostly dial-up Internet connections and many schools with no broadband access. Horizon plans to offer affordable Internet service to these communities, customizing services for anchor institutions that require different speeds, point-to-point service, and other options in hopes of connecting approximately 600 community anchor institutions.

BTOP funds also have allowed Horizon to engage four contracting firms, which have hired several hundred workers for construction crews. In addition, Horizon has hired more than a dozen people for various headquarters positions, including project administration and sales.

Last Updated: December 7, 2011

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