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 ARRA-funded broadband project.

In April 2010, Critical Hub was awarded $25.7 million in ARRA funds through the NTIA for the creation of the Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative (PRBI), a project designed to bring fast, affordable broadband service to all of Puerto Rico. Since its funding, PRBI established an ultra-high speed backbone connection for broadband providers from Puerto Rico to Miami. Early this month, Critical Hub received its FCC licenses for the terrestrial microwave network, giving the company the green-light to begin the installation & activation of 24 interconnection points around the island.

The PRBI’s islandwide network provides additional ‘on-ramps’, if you will, to the fiberoptic bridge connecting Puerto Rico and the US 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 & metropolitan areas.”

Broadband providers which cannot affordably access the San Juan metro area will now have 23 other possible areas to interconnect with the network”, continued 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 Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative project.”

The PRBI network includes the deployment of middle mile capacity to the municipalities of Florida, Barranquitas, Villalba, Yauco, Fajardo, Morovis, Ceiba, Maricao, among others. At these 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.

The Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative is also continuing it work on establishing local peering – or interconnection – between Puerto Rico’s broadband networks. “Broadband providers have 24 locations where they can interconnect their networks with the PRBI’s network,” said Larson. “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. 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.”

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