Beacon 2.0 network an ‘asset’ to R.I.’s knowledge economy
GOV. LINCOLN D. CHAFEE (left) looks on at an event Friday announcing the completion of the Beacon 2.0 fiber-optic network, where Rep. James R. Langevin (right) and others highlighted the significance of the cyberinfrastructure in strengthening Rhode Island's knowledge economy.
PROVIDENCE – Oshean Inc., a nonprofit group formed to develop communications infrastructure in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts, announced the completion Friday of Beacon 2.0, a high-speed fiber-optic network connecting more than 100 schools, hospitals, libraries and government agencies.
Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Reps. James R. Langevin and David N. Cicilline joined Oshean and representatives from the Beacon 2.0 “Community Anchor Institutions” at the Providence Public Library Friday morning to highlight the positive impact the new infrastructure is expected to have on the state’s economy, education and health care.
“Cyberinfrastructure provides the fuel to grow our knowledge-based economy,” said Chafee. “Broadband expansion is essential to fostering a greater social, economic and political equality and narrowing income disparities throughout Rhode Island.”
Beacon 2.0, which extends more than 450 miles throughout all five Rhode Island counties and Bristol County, Mass., is one of the state’s largest recent infrastructure projects. It took three years to be completed. To build the network, Oshean hired Cox Communications Inc., Rhode Island’s largest cable provider.
The broadband network lays the foundation for virtual classrooms, telemedicine and electronic health records, and digital literacy programs, Oshean said.
“This is a significant milestone for the state and surrounding region,” said David Marble, president and CEO of Oshean. “Rhode Island now has an amazing asset that enables it to be on the cutting edge of digital technology capability.”
With the completion of the high-speed network, funded by $21.7 million in federal grants and $10.7 million in private investment, Rhode Island now boasts the third-largest broadband coverage among U.S. states, Chafee said.
“Business, education, public safety, tourism – every aspect of our lives – is tied to technology,” said Langevin. “In order for Rhode Island to stay competitive on all fronts, and to attract the innovative forward thinkers who will grow our economy, we must make smart investments in technological infrastructure.”
The Beacon 2.0 Community Anchor Institutions include the city of Providence, the R.I. Department of Education, R.I. Emergency Management Agency, the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, the University of Rhode Island, Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Rhode Island Hospital, Memorial Hospital, South County Hospital and the Ocean State Community Health Collaborative.