Nashville to Strengthen Local Government-Owned Fiber Optic Network | New
Blount may be a semi-rural county, but its technological know-how is becoming increasingly cutting-edge.
Executives from Avèro Advisors, Blount emergency response agencies and local governments announced at a May 5 event a partnership with Nashville-based internet service provider iRis Networks.
This partnership will transform approximately 120 miles of fiber optic cable into high speed Internet for governments, agencies and businesses.
Notably, the move also connects Fort Loudon Electric Cooperative’s fiber network with Blount.
The fiber optic line is a conduit for high-speed internet and lightning-fast data transfer, and it is an increasingly vital and relevant resource for local governments, businesses and residents across the country. .
The partnership with iRis is a step in a multi-year cooperative journey that has grown considerably with the creation of MACNet – short for Maryville Alcoa County Network – the name of the fiber-optic cable network shared between the County, Maryville and Alcoa.
MACNet is managed by a tri-government board of directors and an agreement was passed in 2018. It was created to “standardize and secure technology and be ready for future applications,” according to an email from the mayor of Blount County , Ed Mitchell, who spoke. during the event and has supported this type of technological innovation for years.
“There are so many partnerships that work so well in this county,” Mitchell told executives Wednesday, noting that they have conceptualized the advancement of fiber optic for decades. Back then, Mitchell noted, trying to figure out what fiber could do for the county was like “speaking in tongues.”
But what was once a tech speculation is turning into a usable reality.
Once iRis installs $ 150,000 in hardware for the network using the Blount County Communications Center as a sort of data center hub, they’ll have a system similar – albeit much smaller than – to what the giant local telecommunications AT&T and Spectrum supplies.
“The iRis network will use MACNet to provide its services to businesses in Blount County,” said Abhijit “AV” Verekar, president and CEO of Avèro Advisors, in a recent telephone interview. “In the absence of MACNet, they would have had to build their own fiber optic network across the county and 120 miles of fiber is not cheap to build.”
Avèro is led by Verekar and Corporate Vice President Mike Caffrey and consults with Maryville, Alcoa and the County in providing IT infrastructure services.
Caffrey kicked off the May 5 event – held at the Communications Center – noting that “everyone in the room had something to do with this infrastructure that made so much possible in Blount County , but also established a relationship between the public and private sectors. possible. “
In an interview after the announcement, Caffrey praised the willingness of local governments to cooperate and literally link resources.
“When you have that shared environment all of the sudden costs come down to a point where, for your creative process, you don’t have to say, ‘Throw away this idea because we don’t have enough money.’ , did he declare. “It has always been about effective government.”
But it’s also an efficient business: If businesses have a strong local IT infrastructure, they’re more likely to set up shop, he explained. “We live in a rural setting, like most states.
“Most of the infrastructure needs are not being met or are the responsibility of someone else,” Caffrey said.
According to 2010 US Census Bureau data, about 93% of Tennessee is considered rural: that same tally found that 82,870 lived in urban areas of Blount and 40,140 in rural areas.
Caffrey and others have pointed out that the May 5 announcement was not the end of news about what iRis, Avèro and MACNet will accomplish in Blount.
Although the residences cannot connect to the system they are currently building, Mitchell pointed out that such a move affects communities: MACNet’s readiness has helped the county develop hot spots in schools, the Foothills Mall. and the library, he emailed.
“The pandemic has affected us all,” Mitchell said. “But I’ll tell you, it hurts some people a lot more than others. Our parents and teachers in Blount County went above and beyond to provide for their students.
People shouldn’t have to worry about a good internet connection during times when basic needs like food and shelter are threatened, many leaders have emphasized over the past year.
This fiber optic expansion in Blount comes just months after Governor Bill Lee said the state would invest $ 14.9 million in broadband accessibility grants.
“Every Tennessean should have access to the same broadband broadband regardless of the zip code they live in,” Lee said in a March 5 press release.
According to the Federal Communication Commission’s 2020 Broadband Deployment Report, one in six rural Tennesseans does not have broadband access, the governor’s statement noted.