Home / Sun Corridor Network Project Plans Broadband Access along I-40

Sun Corridor Network Project Plans Broadband Access along I-40

BY TETTLEMA – MAY 31, 2018

Fiber optic infrastructure enables high-speed connections vital to education, research, medicine, commerce and economic vitality. Communities lacking adequate connectivity - particularly underserved rural and tribal communities and institutions - are at significant disadvantage economically and socially.

Unfortunately, a significant part of northern Arizona falls into a “fiber desert.” A fiber desert is an area lacking the fiber optic or broadband availability and capacity necessary to thrive in today’s economy and society. This inhibits the education, innovation and research opportunities of higher education institutions, impedes K-12 student preparation, thwarts government services, and constrains economic development. This problem is particularly acute among tribal communities, many of which lack even the most basic forms of communications we take for granted.

Currently, major east-west paths and north-south “long haul” high capacity fiber routes run through Sunnyvale, Salt Lake City, Denver, El Paso, Phoenix, and Los Angeles, bypassing northern Arizona and New Mexico.  

To address this market failure, the Sun Corridor Network’s Interstate 40 Initiative proposes a unique, multi-state regional approach - involving public and private organizations - to plan, build, and operate an ultra-high speed, “future proofed” interstate fiber network. This network will generally run along the I-40 freeway corridor linking Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Las Vegas and Southern California, providing on-ramps to the many communities and tribal nations along that route.

The initial phase of this project culminated in a remarkable gathering last month in Flagstaff of about 100 stakeholders representing four states, seven tribes (Arizona, California, Nevada and New Mexico) and diverse interests, organizations and institutions including federal, state, and local governments, K-12 institutions, health care organizations, community colleges, private sector service providers of all sizes, trade groups, higher education institutions, and tribal colleges and government, among others.

“The breadth and depth of the stakeholder representation was exceptional as was the interest level and commitment to solving this regional problem”, said Michael Sherman, Sun Corridor Network Executive Director.

These collaborators heard and discussed research conducted by the Sun Corridor Network’s consultant describing the depth and breadth of need and opportunity for this ambitious network, including the proposed network design and characteristics.

Given the strong support for this endeavor, the Sun Corridor Network and key collaborators will continue planning and developing fund and support for the Initiative.

More than 20 collaborators have come together to discuss reconciliation of the issues and plan for the future of improved connectivity:

  • Arizona Sun Corridor Network

    • Arizona State University

    • University of Arizona

    • Northern Arizona University

  • University of Nevada-Reno

  • Internet2

  • Corporation for Educational Initiatives in California (CENIC)

  • Navajo Technical University

  • Navajo Nation

  • Navajo Telecommunication and Utility Authority (NTUA)

  • City of Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Albuquerque Gigapop (University of New Mexico)

  • City of Flagstaff, Arizona

  • City of Gallup, New Mexico

  • City of Holbrook, Arizona

  • City of Winslow, Arizona

  • City of Kingman, Arizona

  • State of New Mexico

  • State of Arizona

  • State of Arizona, Department of Commerce

  • Navajo County, Arizona

  • Coconino County, Arizona

  • Arizona HealthCare

  • Zayo Group

  • Cox Communications

  • CableOne

  • Plateau Telecommunications

  • Frontier Communications

  • Sacred Winds Communications

  • Plateau Telecommunications

  • World Wide Technologies Inc.

  • Mozilla Foundation

The Sun Corridor Network, an important resource for education and research in Arizona that provides high-speed, reliable network connectivity while creating opportunities for collaboration, information sharing, and efficiency among its subscribers.

Sun Corridor Network is a collaborative effort sponsored by the Arizona Board of Regents’ (ABOR) three state universities – Arizona State University (ASU), Northern Arizona University (NAU), and the University of Arizona (UA) – to share digital communications resources, network services, and applications among eligible subscribers.

As a member of Internet2, the Sun Corridor Network taps into an ultra-high speed nationwide network consisting of more than 200 research universities, undergraduate institutions, K-12 schools, libraries, museums, and science centers for research and educational purposes.

Make sure to follow UTO on Twitter @ASU_UTO.

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