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viNGN Awards Contracts for Construction of FAP Sites

Plans for network connections on St. Thomas. The small red boxes represent fiber access points.The Virgin Islands Next Generation Network’s governing board approved a resolution Wednesday morning to award contracts for construction of fiber access points as part of the Comprehensive Community Infrastructure grant. The grant allows viNGN to create a broadband network used by community anchor institutions and internet service providers.

Fiber access points (FAPs) will be built both on St. Thomas and St. Croix in a number of locations. This specific set of contracts covers six sites at a cost of $700,000, said viNGN Chief Executive Officer Larry Kupfer.

Construction contracts were awarded to:
– J. Benton Construction LLC for two FAPs on St. Croix, one in Estate Diamond and one in Cotton Valley;
– Eleven Construction LLC for one FAP on St. Croix at Juan F. Luis Hospital;
– AT Construction LLC for two FAPs on St. Croix, one at John H. Woodson Junior High School and another at La Grande Princess;
– and Rumina Construction LCC for one FAP on St. Thomas at the Department of Public Works site at Nisky Center.

“I think these will be done in series,” Kupfer said of the construction, noting that a majority – if not all – of the work can be done by local companies. “They’ll build the first and then second, and it’s likely to be the same crews,” Kupfer said.

Peter Schultz, secretary of the governing board, said viNGN held a meeting with community anchor institutions and internet service providers to update them on the status of the project, providing a layout of the network and locations of all FAP sites.

Schultz said they were unable to give attendees a rate structure for wholesale bandwidth because rates still need to be negotiated within the board; however, he was able to present a timeline for completion of the project and extensive information about the project itself.

Due to Tropical Storm Isaac, attendance at the meeting was low, so the board proposed to hold another meeting in October to discuss updates and how the overall process will work.

The board also discussed updates for other projects under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grants, noting that the public computer centers and sustainable broadband adoption programs are on schedule.

There are agreements in place for 30 PCCs, exceeding the original 28 proposed centers, Kupfer said, and the territory could end up with as many as 33 centers after budget adjustments.

The network is currently preparing a request for proposals for computer equipment at a value of $900,000 to $1 million for the total project.

Training company CyberLearning has held four Train the Trainer classes, two on St. Croix and two on St. Thomas, training a total of 33 administrators. Kupfer said there will be two more classes in September, one on each island, and then all training will be complete.

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