On Thursday, April 30, Governor Jack Markell, along with other state and city officials as well as state and county legislators visited Burris Logistics in Milford to announce that a $1 million grant had been awarded to Fibertech Networks to build 36 miles of fiber-optic network in high-impact rural areas. The project is Phase II of the state’s expansion of broadband to areas that currently do not have the service.
“I appreciate the work put in to making this happen,” said Governor Markell. “Lives have been transformed through the internet in a short time, across every part of society, the internet has had an impact. In places like Sussex County, telemedicine is providing significant benefits. The area does not support having medical specialists in every area so telemedicine provides Delawareans the opportunity to get advanced medical care.” Governor Markell said that broadband is a critical part of providing high-speed internet to more people.
Donnie Burris, the CEO of Burris Logistics said that connecting the company data centers was critical to their success. He said that the company, which is celebrating their 90th year as a family-owned company in the state, had 17 data centers in the country and that those data centers needed quality connections in order to communicate logistics so that customers received the deliveries they were expecting.
Governor Markell explained that the first phase of the project was the creating of a high-speed line from Middletown to Georgetown and that the second phase would provide additional benefits to rural areas in southern Delaware. He said adding the fiber-optic lines would have significant impact on schools, libraries and colleges. It would also allow business, farms and homes to become connected.
“According to a recent report in the Washington Post, Delaware has been ranked one of the best states for broadband in the country,” Governor Markell said. James Collins of the Delaware Department of Technology and Information said that many states struggle with expanding broadband but that Delaware was ahead of the curve when it came to providing high-speed internet to its residents.
Mike Hurley of Fibertech explained that the company had only been in existence since 2000 but had built more fiber-optic lines than any other small company in the country. He praised Governor Markell for his knowledge of telecommunications and the need for broadband throughout the state.
“When we work with businesses to expand connections with different locations, we sometimes run into problems,” Mr. Hurley explained. “You need to look at broadband as a tree where expansion must branch from the trunk. There are times we cannot branch as the technology beyond where we need to go is not there. We are pleased that Delaware has taken steps to correct the infrastructure to allow for those branches.
Senator Brian Pettyjohn said that broadband used to be a luxury but that in today’s world it was a utility. He said that he believed the addition of the fiber-optic lines would help the educational and medical community, providing for a foundation to expand. Representative Ruth Briggs-King said that fiber is what connects the internet together.
“Here in Sussex County, we do not have the technology to keep up and this will help,” Representative Briggs-King said. “Delaware is getting faster and stronger all the time and this is just the next step to improving the lives of our citizens.”
Ed Krupka, the Chief Information Officer for Burris Logistics, said that their company could not expand without technology. With a company that operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year, Burris needs technology that works so that their customers receive the deliveries the expect.
“Every task our team members perform are connected to a network,” Mr. Krupka said. “Technology makes it possible while our team members make it happen. If the technology fails, our team members stop. Fibertech has become an important strategic partner for Burris.”
Mayor Bryan Shupe said that the new broadband connection would not only be beneficial for large businesses, but high-speed internet connections are critical for small businesses as well. “My wife and I own three small businesses in Milford,” Mayor Shupe said. “We could not operate any of them without technology. With this network, we will see more businesses grow.