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PRBI kicks off islandwide microwave network deployment

The PRBI is installing microwave antennas to expand the island’s broadband network.

Critical Hub Networks officially kicked off the deployment of the Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative’s islandwide microwave network this month, initiating the final phase of the broadband project, company officials announced.

The high speed broadband network, which is being funded by a $25.7 million assignment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, is scheduled for completion by March 2013.

Since its funding in April 2010, the PRBI — a project designed to bring fast, affordable broadband service to all of Puerto Rico — established an ultra-high speed backbone connection for broadband providers from Puerto Rico to Miami.

Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission granted Critical Hub its licenses for the terrestrial microwave network, giving the company the go-ahead to begin the installation and activation of 24 interconnection points around the island.

“The PRBI’s islandwide network provides additional ‘on-ramps’, if you will, to the fiber-optic bridge connecting Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland,” said Carlo Marazzi, president of Critical Hub.

“There are at least 10 broadband providers serving rural areas of Puerto Rico.  PRBI’s islandwide network will ensure that those providers can also connect to the PRBI, and that residents in rural areas will have access to the same broadband speeds at the same rates as residents in urban and metropolitan areas,” he said.

The PRBI network includes the deployment of so-called “middle mile” capacity to the municipalities of Florida, Barranquitas, Villalba, Yauco, Fajardo, Morovis, Ceiba, and Maricao, among others.

At those locations, Critical Hub is working with local broadband providers who service these areas to ensure they have sufficient capacity to offer fast, affordable broadband service to residents, businesses, and community institutions such as schools, libraries, hospitals, police and other community institutions.

“Broadband providers that cannot affordably access the San Juan metro area will now have 23 other possible areas to interconnect with the network,” said Karen Larson, senior vice president of Critical Hub. “Bringing fast broadband speeds out of San Juan to the rest of the island is central to the PRBI project.”

Drumming up support for ‘peering’
The PRBI is also continuing it work on establishing local peering — or interconnection — among Puerto Rico’s broadband networks, she said.

“Broadband providers have 24 locations where they can interconnect their networks with the PRBI’s network. Local Peering means keeping local traffic local. So, if you send an email from one broadband provider to another, that email should not have to go to Miami and return to Puerto Rico, it should stay on island,” she said.

“This is affecting the price that consumers pay for service, as well as the quality of service.  Consumers need to call their broadband providers and tell them that local Internet traffic should stay local — to support local peering.”

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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