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  1. How Fiber Keeps Governments and Economies Moving Forward

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    In addition to implementing and overseeing laws, tax policies, regulating commerce and much more, government entities in the U.S. are a massive driver of state and local economies. In 2016, three of every 20 U.S. citizens worked for the government. In Pennsylvania, 12% of the population worked for a government agency in 2016. However, the government sector is no different than businesses across the private sector because they too must overcome the same technology challenges, including aging infrastructure, to achieve growth. According to Government Technology, about one-third of major IT systems that state governments use today are outdated.

    Government IT leaders at the federal, state and municipal levels must stay ahead of industry trends to boost efficiencies and create more opportunities for growth and advancement, ultimately paving the way for the next 20 years and beyond. The speed, stability, flexibility and security of fiber optics is one major factor that will keep governments – and economies – moving forward.

    Fiber Fuels Growth and Innovation

    Pennsylvania leaders are meeting the challenges with creative solutions. The commonwealth recently announced the hiring of its first Chief Digital Officer, a position created to spearhead the establishment of a state data management and data governance strategy. Gov. Wolf has also recognized the importance of things like fast, reliable internet for everyone, regardless of proximity to large cities.

    The Restore Pennsylvania initiative includes policies that provide reliable broadband to all parts of the commonwealth, but the amount of fiber currently in the ground is not enough to support the growing demands. 5G in converged networks means there will be more endpoints, requiring more scalability. If governments want to see the proliferation of SMART cities, they have a responsibility to adopt technologies that lead the way.

    Other benefits of leveraging fiber optic internet include:

    • Ability to provide more cost-effective services to vital government services including first responders
    • Connecting schools, recreational facilities and other governmental facilities with future-proof networks that can accommodate evolving needs
    • Municipal broadband options: government bodies that invest in fiber optic infrastructure within their areas of jurisdiction can lease municipal fiber to private sector providers

    Clearly, there are some significant ways in which governments can benefit from choosing to embrace fiber optic networks.

    Attracting and Retaining Talent

    The ability to transition to remote work is essential for business continuity in the event of unforeseen circumstances, which can prevent people from reporting physically to an office. The COVID-19 pandemic, when many businesses transitioned staff to remote work, is the most recent example of how quickly IT leaders must be able to move.

    Before this even occurred, however, the federal government had already been a leader in telework with the adoption of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. This legislation required federal agencies to develop a remote work plan, but many federal employees have returned to the office in recent years.

    In addition to offering the scalability needed during emergency situations, continuing to promote remote work options will help governments remain competitive as employers in a post-COVID world, where telecommuting may become more of the norm. Fiber provides the scalability required of infrastructure within facilities to meet increased needs for bandwidth brought on by more remote work.

    Addressing Speed, Stability and Security with Dark Fiber

    Fiber optics provides solutions that are faster, more reliable and more scalable than legacy copper-coax solutions. Within the full suite of fiber optic solutions, however, dark fiber stands out as a strong play for governments looking to handle large amounts of data with high speed, resilience and high levels of security. Here’s how.

    Dark fiber is one of the most efficient ways to move large amounts of data. Because it enables government departments to appropriate individual strands of fiber for their exclusive use, it is also extremely secure. Dark fiber also gives users high levels of control in terms of the equipment used and protocols selected – this also enhances the safety of the traffic to be passed along the network. Dark fiber enables government bodies to share information directly from point to point, as opposed to sharing information via internet providers where it may hit multiple locations before reaching its endpoint. If one is using a traditional internet provider,dark fiber can provide an excellent layer of redundancy, thereby supporting continuity of services by the government during times of crisis.

    DQE offers fiber and network solutions addressing several challenges facing government agencies. We work with businesses to custom build private networks that block outside groups from tracking or recording information being transferred, making it one of the most secure ways to power a network. DQE offers a full suite of fiber-based internet solutions including dark fiber options.

    To learn more about how DQE can partner with you to customize solutions, check out our information on dark fiber or contact us today.

  2. When the Classrooms Reopen: How Fiber Drives Educational Success

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    Earlier this week, the federal government extended its COVID-19 related social distancing guidelines until the end of April. In multiple school districts, that means students learning from home and instructors providing online guidance. For now, schools, community colleges, universities and other educational institutions remain empty – but not forever. In time, America will have control over the outbreak and students will once again be heading back to the classroom.

    When that time comes, there will certainly be a lot of catching up to do. Instructors will likely be looking to continue leveraging the cloud-based, communication and collaboration applications with which they are just beginning to get familiar. Students, having spent months online, will also be eager to continue taking advantage of innovative e-learning technologies that they can access from their mobile devices. All in all, the question becomes whether your institution or school district has the network infrastructure to support new, bandwidth-intensive demands.

    In-class sessions may have shut down for a while, but the trend towards mobility, e-learning, smart devices and remote collaboration is surging. If you’re unsure about how your networks will perform under an evolving load or you know you are still relying on old, constrictive technologies like copper coax, read on. We explain how we can help.

    Modernizing Your Curriculum? Modernize Your Network First!

    With today’s connected classrooms and the increased popularity of online learning, reliable internet is arguably as essential as electricity. Many educational institutions still use legacy solutions, like copper coax cable networks, for their connectivity needs. In rural areas, even fewer options for accessing the internet exist due to lack of pre-existing infrastructure. In fact, some districts still rely on microwave transmission. Compared to fiber, this particular technology is significantly less reliable because information can only be effectively shared if there’s nothing in the way of the signal, like buildings or large trees.

    Education uses the power of fiber

    So, just how can an educational institution use the power of fiber to enhance their students’ learning experiences? Here are just a few trends:

    • Big Data: As Forbes reports, big data can give educators actionable insights into the consumption patterns around certain educational technologies. In this way, they can leverage the power of data to create the right mix of tools to keep students excited and committed to learning. It’s more efficient than doing spreadsheets.
    • Virtual Reality: Educators are embracing virtual reality for various reasons. Imagine covering a unit on an ancient civilization or an abstract concept like space – an experience out of reach for your students. Thanks to the power of virtual reality, you can help your curriculum come alive and keep students engaged.
    • Digital Footprint: Work and the online experience go hand in hand these days. As a result, getting students to become familiar with popular work deliverables, even in K-12 programming, is critical. As a result, teachers are increasingly using platforms to assist students in creating blogs that serve as a digital portfolio of their accomplishments each school year.

    Fiber optic networks can improve on-site educational opportunities by facilitating the use of exciting new learning technologies. They can give you the increased bandwidth and more reliable connectivity needed. However, choosing the right provider can be difficult. Here’s how DQE can support you.

    DQE’s Customizable Solutions

    DQE can build network infrastructure to meet your individual needs for bandwidth and internet services (including metro ethernet and DDoS mitigation), as was the case with the ARIN Intermediate Unit. In this situation, we expanded our network by more than 40 miles to outfit 11 school districts and two technical schools the IU serves with access to a reliable, fast network with increased security. Because we own and operate the network, the school districts and other educational institutions we partner with get peace of mind knowing we are their single point of contact for any requirements that need addressing. In the areas we serve, we have the technical expertise and network density of larger operators, but with the agility and flexibility of an entrepreneurial venture. We’ve previously explored this topic. To learn more, download our data sheet.  

    Recognizing the importance of increasing connectivity for institutes that foster learning, the FCC also offers an E-Rate program. The program provides eligible schools and libraries with access to discounts on telecommunications services, internet access, internal connections and managed internal broadband services. We have years of experience with this program and we can work with schools and E-Rate representatives to build customizable solutions.

    Let’s Talk

    We understand that the technology needs of each educational facility is as unique as the individual learning experience for each student within the school. Therefore, we go beyond the one-size-fits-all approach. To learn more about how we can customize our fiber solutions to help your school or university, download contact us today!

  3. Why You Need Fiber Optics For Your Business

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    What is Fiber Optics: An Overview

    There are over 500 million Internet-connected devices in American homes and businesses. Thanks to these devices, the demand for fast, reliable Internet is increasing. This increase will continue as businesses, especially, depend on Internet to complete everyday operations. Almost ⅓ of businesses state a need for Internet speeds that rely on greater capacity networks than currently exist in many U.S. locations.

    Fiber optic networks are one of the greater capacity networks. They provide high speed data rates and flexible bandwidth. Fiber optic cables are made of thin, pure glass that is powered by light wavelengths. By using fiber optic instead of copper cables, Internet providers are not susceptible to electrical interference. They can transmit in Gbps, or Gigabits per second – speeds 1000 times faster than 1 Mbps. A limited percent of the U.S. population has access to the infrastructure needed to support Gbps speeds. But, of that population 90% use fiber optics to the premises, or FTTP, networks.

    How Fast is Fiber Optic Internet?

    The two common data rates, gigabits and megabits can illustrate why fiber optics are ideal for reliability and speed. According to Akamai Technologies, the average Internet speed for the U.S. is 9.8 Mbps. It takes 1024 Mbps to make 1 Gbps. This means that fiber optic Internet has the capability to be 100 times faster than the average internet speed. To give you an idea of how fast fiber optics can be, our fiber optics network can transmit up to 1 Gbps.

    Although the average Internet speed is fine for basic applications and a single user. Many businesses, schools, and other institutions need speeds well over the average Mbps.

    The Small Business Administration lists the baseline speed for an “OK” Internet experience for telecommuting or telemedicine at 25 Mbps. The speed would have to be over 50 Mbps to be “Good”.

    Fiber Optics Bandwidth Capabilities

    Internet speed is not the only variable that is crucial for today’s businesses. Flexibility to update data transfer rate, or bandwidth, in real-time is also important. As more businesses use more applications with more users, the bandwidth needed to accommodate will surge.

    Current standards for Internet speeds will be obsolete and networks will have to update to meet the new ones. Fiber optic networks give internet service providers the flexibility to expand bandwidth in response to rising standards.

    Future of Fiber Optics

    The National Telecommunications & Information Administration states “In the near-term, investments in broadband infrastructure help create jobs and business growth by supporting the installation and upgrade of fiber-optic networks, wireless towers, and other high-tech components.” Some providers have not been able to afford the higher cost of installing fiber optic infrastructure.

    DQE recognizes the need for speed and quality Internet services. We understand what U.S. businesses need to thrive and remain competitive in the international market. As the need for speed is growing, so is DQE Communications’ fiber optics network.

    This past year, we added 256 miles of fiber optic lines to expand high-speed Internet coverage in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. Installing more fiber optics cables within the region benefits Pittsburgh area businesses. It provides the reliable, fast Internet services necessary for them to remain competitive.