VINGN board OKs contracts for broadband network


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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Next Generation Network board approved several contracts Friday that will allow the government-owned company to operate and maintain the broadband network it has spent the last three years building.

The board approved a $134,000 contract with Bonneville Group VI, Inc. to purchase fiber-testing equipment, and Metro Motors SC, Inc. was contracted to buy heavy-duty cargo vans and utility vehicles for the V.I. Next Generation Network.

V.I. Next Generation Network President and Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Kupfer said the Next Generation Network will purchase four utility vehicles for $22,000 each for a total of $88,000.

The company plans to buy two cargo vans at $30,000 each.

The board also voted on the signatories for the corporation's bank accounts.

With the board's decision Friday, the multiple Banco Popular accounts must have at least three signatories, and two of those will be required for all transactions on those accounts.

The board added newly hired chief technical officer Cornelius Vanderford as one of the company's signatories.

V.I. Next Generation Network leadership also gave the board an update on the project, which is made up of four federal grants.

The federal government has approved an application for a deadline extension for the construction of the network. The broadband network must now be completed by June 30.

The Public Computer Center and Sustainable Broadband Adoption grants have a September deadline and are on track to meet that goal.

The Public Computer Center grant was awarded to build computer centers across the territory so that people without the ability to buy a computer still could access the high-speed Internet offered by the new broadband network.

Kupfer said 24 centers are open territorywide and four more sites are scheduled to open soon.

Vice President of Sales and Marketing Kevin Hughes told the board that 250 telework "virtual positions" contracts soon will be available from Contract World for Virgin Islanders. Eleven Virgin Islanders have completed the Contract World training and testing and already have begun working, he said.

Under the State Broadband Initiative grant, the corporation has been working with the Lt. Governor's Office on the street mapping project and with the Bureau of Information Technology on the emergency responders systems. The network also is working with the V.I. Water and Power Authority to develop a smart grid system.

"It's our smallest grant, but in 2014 we're really going to see a lot of great projects coming through," Hughes said.

Kupfer said the actual construction of the network is substantially completed. The last things to complete are the connections from the "backbone" of the network to the anchor institutions, which include schools, hospitals and government buildings.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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