At least one big cable company is getting in on some stimulus money. In Rhode Island, Cox Business, a division of Cox Communications, has been selected to provide Oshean, a non-profit consortium, with a 48-strand fiber network throughout the state.

The project is funded by a $21.7 million federal-stimulus BTOP grant coupled with $10 million in private funds.

Work will begin in May to lay a statewide, 350-mile, fiber-optic network, with completion scheduled for Spring 2013. Cox will use its own in-house contractors to lay the fiber, and it also will be responsible for physical maintenance and upgrades of the cable.

The dedicated cyber-infrastructure will pass through 38 of the 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island. To that backbone, Oshean will connect a wide range of hospitals, colleges, universities, community colleges, government agencies, schools and libraries.

Cox Business and Oshean have had a working relationship for about a decade. "Rhode Island is a competitive marketplace," says Mark Scott, VP/Cox Business, New England. "We have a very strong commercial business with existing customers today. By connecting together (with Oshean), we thought it would be a better use of the total investment."

Oshean President and CEO George Loftus said in a statement, “Teaming up with Cox to get this job done builds on our already strong working relationship. Thanks to Cox’s expertise and efficiency, we will be able to connect to 100 sites across the state – double the number we had initially proposed.”

Many of Oshean’s members already are Cox Business customers, including two major regional healthcare systems – Lifespan and Care New England. "We’re being able to interconnect our networks," says Scott.

The agreement between Cox and Oshean also includes an initial 20-year contract that can be extended for as long as 40 years.

– Linda Hardesty

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