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May 2013 News from PANGAEA

In This Issue

New Customers

New Office

10th Anniversary

Community Impact

Broadband Communities

Network Mapping

Rutherford Business Expo

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Quick Links
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Did You Know?
The capacity of a fiber is measured in the number of bits sent per second. Megabit (a million bits) defined the capacity of early fiber-optic cables. Next came gigabit (a billion), and now comes terabit (a trillion). The latest transatlantic cable is rated at 2.4 terabits. In one second, that cable can transmit a hundred hours of digital video or 30 million phone calls across the Atlantic.

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PANGAEA’S QUARTERLY TESTIMONIAL PROGRAM

 
If you haven’t already submitted a customer testimonial, please take a couple of minutes and give us your feedback.  Just click this link and provide a couple of sentences regarding how PANGAEA Internet has impacted your organization.  Every quarter, all customers who have submitted testimonials will be entered into a drawing to receive a $100 invoice credit!
Our second quarter winner! Bryan King, President Lakeside Mills, Inc.________________

Customer Referral Program
PANGAEA Internet is available to all commercial customers that are near our fiber route.  (See our Network Map.)  If a referral from a current PANGAEA customer results in a signed service agreement, we will credit your PANGAEA invoice $200!!!  Click this link  to fill out the form.

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Board Officers

Jim Edwards (President) Joe Crowder (Secretary)

Harry Grymes (Treasurer)

Board Directors

Kate Barkschat

Chris Braund

Jeff Byrd

Keven McCammon

Rhonda Owens

Marche Pittman

Russ Pitts

Staff

Ron Walters, Executive Director

Stu Davidson, Operations Director

Carolyn Whitehead, Office Administrator

Contract Support

Jody Gill, Accounting & Reporting

Sean O’Connell, Network Technician

   
New CustomersPANGAEA Internet is pleased to welcome our newest customers.  These businesses are now experiencing the speed and reliability of our “speed of light” fiber optic internet service:

    • Coldwell Banker, Rutherfordton
    • Brasfield &Gorrie, Columbus
    • Forest Edwards Insurance, Forest City
    • Charles Watkins Auto, Forest City
    • WNC Edutech, Columbus

 

New Office – Ribbon Cuttingribbon cutting

 

We’ve moved!  Earlier in May, PANGAEA Internet relocated to a location that provides our staff with much needed office and meeting space.  Now that the dust has settled, we invite you to attend our ribbon cutting ceremony and take a tour of our new offices.

 

The ribbon cutting ceremony will New Office 3be held on Tuesday, June 4, at 12 noon. Light refreshments will be available, along with a sampling of our super-fast fiber optic internet service.

 

You’ll find our new office at 75 S. Trade Street in Tryon.

 

 

 

10th Anniversary Celebration!

 

Coming soon  . . . don’t miss our 10th Anniversary Celebration.  PANGAEA Internet will host the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce’s “Business After Hours” this November .  We’ll have more details in an upcoming newsletter.

PANGAEA’s Community Impact

 

Our super-fast fiber optic internet service allows local businesses to compete on a worldwide scale. Here’s what Bryan King of Lakeside Mills has to say:

As a small business competing in a Global economy, we have found PANGAEA to be a true asset for our company. The ability to communicate with our trading partners at the speed of light has truly enhanced our competitiveness and efficiencies. We believe PANGAEA to be an asset to small businesses in our county.

 

Bryan King, President

Lakeside Mills, Inc.

 

Broadband Communities 2013 Broadband Communities (f.k.a., Broadband Properties) is the largest broadband industry association in the United States. In 2004, they awarded PANGAEA Internet their “Community Fiber Network of the Year Award.” Pretty amazing considering PANGAEA was only a year old and had less than seven miles of fiber between Tryon and Columbus, NC.Today, we are closing in on our 10th anniversary, we have 180 miles of fiber in Polk and Rutherford counties, and we serve nearly 100 customers. Our Executive Director, Ron Walters, spoke at the 2013 Broadband Communities conference in Dallas to provide an update on the impact we have had in our community.

See his presentation at BBC 2013 Presentation.

Network Mapping Underway!PANGAEA Internet is now using CrescentLink mapping software from Palmetto Engineering and Consulting of Fort Mill, SC. This advanced software will allow PANGAEA to map our entire fiber optic network.The new map will incorporate all Stu Mapping - May 2013applicable data elements such as the number of fiber strands, splice point locations, pole attachment locations, and fiber assignments and distances. Operations Director Stu Davidson (at right) takes a breather from the task of converting data for use with the new software, which will be completed this summer.

Rutherford Business Showcase

 

Sean O’Connell, Network Technician, demonstrates our fiber splicing equipment.
The Superior Business Internet Service in Polk and Rutherford Counties of Western North Carolina. Serving Tryon, Columbus, Mill Spring, Saluda, Lake Lure, Rutherfordton, Spindale, Forest City, Ellenboro, Bostic and Cliffside.

February 2013 News from PANGAEA

Logo

 In This Issue

-Community Impact

-New Employee

-What Customers Are Saying

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Quick Links
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Did You Know?

Fiber Optics Use Light

 There is no electrical current being passed through fiber optic cabling, only light. Because of this, there is no heat and no heat means no burning and no fire hazards.  During normal use, fiber optics are the safest option for data transmission.
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PANGAEA’S QUARTERLY TESTIMONIAL PROGRAM

 
If you haven’t already submitted a customer testimonial, please take a couple of minutes and give us your feedback.  Just click this link and provide a couple of sentences regarding how PANGAEA Internet has impacted your organization.  Every quarter, all customers who have submitted testimonials will be entered into a drawing to receive a $100 invoice credit!
Janet Sciacca, Exec Dir, Foothills CofC
Our first quarter winner!Janet Sciacca, Executive Director, Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce 

 

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Customer Referral Program
PANGAEA Internet is available to all commercial customers that are near our fiber route.  (See our Network Map.)  If a referral from a current PANGAEA customer results in a signed service agreement, we will credit your PANGAEA invoice  $200!!!  Click this link to fill out the form to submit your referral.
 
 
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Board Officers

Jim Edwards (President) Joe Crowder (Secretary)

Harry Grymes (Treasurer)

Board Directors

Kate Barkschat

Jeff Byrd

Keven McCammon

Rhonda Owens

Marche Pittman

Russ Pitts

Staff

Ron Walters, Executive Director

Stu Davidson, Operations Director

Carolyn Whitehead, Office Administrator

   PANGAEA’s Community Impact  
In PANGAEA Internet’s recently completed Customer Survey, over 90 percent of the respondents rated PANGAEA Internet’s performance and value, as compared to other competitive options, at above average or excellent. One of our satisfied clients is St. Luke’s Hospital in Columbus, a 25-bed critical access care center with a 10-bed psychiatric care unit, which is staffed by approximately 320 employees.

 

 

David Pearson serves as the hospital’s Information Technology Director. “We have a good partnership with PANGAEA,” Pearson says. “I like to think of them as a community partner that helps us provide quality patient care, which in the end, is our reason for being here.

 

“No matter how big or small my situation is that I need a solution for, they always work with me and St Lukes Signfind a way to help us,” he says. “We have a number of local facilities which need to connect with us. Some are just up the street, while others are across town. PANGAEA always works with us to establish a point-to-point fiber-optic connection between their offices and the hospital.”

 

Making these connections allows clinical data to be transmitted quickly between locations. Before PANGAEA, that process was problematic. “For example, physicians need to be able to view X-rays, MRI’s, and other images as they are produced by the Radiology department,” Pearson says. “When I first arrived at St. Luke’s, we had slow virtual private network connections. Whenever we had a storm or any sort of power disruption, they would go down, which required us to go out and reset them to get them working again. With PANGAEA’s fiber-optic connection, we don’t have to do that.”

 

The use of modern electronic medical records systems makes it possible for medical professionals to obtain patient data whenever they may need it, but a secure, fast connection is needed for the systems to work properly. “Whether our clinicians are on campus at one of our fiber-connected buildings, at their offices, or even in their homes, they need access to medical records at any time,” Pearson says. “Whether a physician is employed by the hospital, or by an affiliated medical practice, PANGAEA provides a secure connection which allows them to access records quickly from wherever they may happen to be.  That’s a capability we didn’t have before we began working with PANGAEA.”

 

PANGAEA Internet has helped St. Luke’s through every step of upgrading their facilities to a modern, high-speed fiber-optic network. “They helped us set up our fiber network and connect five of our buildings through it,” according to Pearson. “Without their help, it would have been a much more difficult project. They had all of the contacts and vendor relationships necessary to complete the work, and they basically ran the project for me. They knew what needed to be done, and I didn’t have to manage the details. It was a load off my mind. They’re a great community partner. We’ve been extremely pleased with PANGAEA’s Internet service at our facility.”
To learn more about how PANGAEA Internet can help your business, call 828-859-3072.

 

PANGAEA’S New Employee

 

Thanks to our customers, PANGAEA Internet continues to grow. To help us manage our growth and continue providing you with the highest-quality internetCarolyn Feb 2013 Nwsltr service, Carolyn Whitehead has joined PANGAEA Internet as our Office Administrator.  She has extensive administrative experience, having managed the office of the Lake Region Lakes Management District in Winter Haven, FL for 23 years.

 

Carolyn and her husband, Richard, moved to the area last June in order to be closer to their daughter and grandson in Rutherfordton. They recently purchased a home in Landrum, and are delighted to be in the Carolinas. Carolyn feels that her experience working in a governmental setting will be very useful in PANGAEA Internet’s non-profit environment, particularly when it comes to meeting the needs of public-sector clients.

 

“I’ll be providing administrative support to our staff and communicating with our customers and I’ll be the first point of contact for anyone who calls our office,” Carolyn says. Among her day-to-day duties will be updating and improving company documentation processes, managing accounts receivable, completing the annual customer satisfaction survey, developing reporting tools to track quality of service, and coordinating external communications, such as the website, Facebook page, and newsletters.

 

Carolyn particularly enjoys the professionalism of the PANGAEA Internet team. “I’m looking forward to being able to help grow our company,” she says.

 

 

What Customers Are Saying
“Polk County Schools has been using PANGAEA as an integral part of our network for almost 10 years.  PANGAEA gives us fast, reliable connections between our schools and our administrative office.  Last month, we lost internet access because of damage to the state’s data network.  Unfortunately the disruption happened on a day when we had almost 150 students scheduled to do state mandated End of Course testing.  Without internet access, we could not administer the test.  PANGAEA came to our rescue with a backup connection to the internet that allowed us to function while the state’s network was being repaired.  Although PANGAEA has always provided us with high quality service at a reasonable price, on this day their service could best be described as Priceless!”-Dave Scherping, Technology Director, Polk County Schools
The Superior Business Internet Service in Polk and Rutherford Counties of Western North Carolina. Serving Tryon, Columbus, Mill Spring, Saluda, Lake Lure, Rutherfordton, Spindale, Forest City, Ellenboro, Bostic and Cliffside.
                                        

 

Rutherford Regional Health System and PANGAEA Internet are recipients of a 2012 Facebook-Rutherford Community Action Grant

November 13, 2012 – Tryon, NC

The $15,000 grant will be used to build infrastructure to connect the hospital hub to Chase Family Care and Insights Psychiatric Resources. This represents phase two in a partnership between Rutherford Regional Health System and PANGAEA Internet to build fiber optic cable to connect the hospital to PANGAEA’s fiber network and to seven RRHS locations throughout the county. Continue reading

PANGAEA Internet Extends Coverage to Saluda

October 17, 2012 – Tryon, NC

A recent expansion of the PANGAEA Internet network means that its speed-of-light service will be available for businesses in the downtown Saluda area in 2013.

“Initially, we are providing service to Polk County government, as well as Saluda Elementary School,” according to PANGAEA Internet Executive Director Ron Walters. “In fact, with this latest expansion, we now provide fiber-optic internet connections to every public and charter school in Polk and Rutherford Counties.”

With the availability of virtually unlimited bandwidth, companies in the downtown Saluda area will have the opportunity to take the internet capabilities of their businesses to a higher level. “While we will not be offering residential service, we will be working to identify and contact potential commercial customers in Saluda in the months ahead,” said Walters. “One of the benefits of our non-profit status is the ability to offer a superior level of service at a very competitive price.”

The PANGAEA Internet network now consists of nearly 200 miles of high speed fiber-optic lines installed throughout Polk and Rutherford Counties. “Our coverage area now spans from Tryon, Saluda, Lake Lure and Columbus in the west, eastward through the Tri-Cities area of Rutherford County, and extends further east to Bostic and Ellenboro, as well as south to Cliffside,” said Walters.

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PANGAEA Internet (pan-GEE-ah) isa non-profit provider of high-speed fiber optic internet service, currently serving nearly 100 customers across Polk and Rutherford Counties, including public school districts, city and county governments, healthcare facilities, and local businesses. Visit us online @ www.pangaea.us, or contact Executive Director Ron Walters at 828-859-3072.

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PANGAEA Internet & Rutherford Regional Health System Awarded Facebook Grant

October 31, 2011 – Tryon, NC
Contacts: PANGAEA Internet: Ron Walters (828-859-3071 or 828-395-1155)

TRYON, NC / October 31, 2011 – PANGAEA Internet (“PANGAEA”) will soon deliver its “Speed of Light” fiber optic internet service to Rutherford Regional Health System (“RRHS”), thanks to a grant from Facebook. RRHS and PANGAEA were awarded $25,000 by George Henry, Facebook Rutherford Data Center Manager, as part of the 2011 Facebook-Rutherford Community Action Grants.

The grant will help improve the quality, efficiency and cost of health care in Rutherford County by providing PANGAEA’s fiber optic connectivity between the RRHS main campus in Rutherfordton and the PANGAEA network. Establishing connectivity will be the first phase of a planned, three-phase project, which will eventually connect the RRHS main campus with seven additional critical RRHS locations throughout Rutherford County.

The grant award enhances an already-strong connection between Facebook and PANGAEA, which is currently installing fiber optic internet service to serve the construction complex located alongside the Facebook Data Center in Forest City. Since 2003, the PANGAEA fiber optic network has expanded to more than 160 fiber route miles serving the major arteries of Polk and Rutherford counties, with approximately 75% of the network located in Rutherford County.

RRHS President and CEO David Bixler and PANGAEA Executive Director Ron Walters received the grant from Henry on Thursday, October 27th, during a presentation at the RRHS main campus. “It’s an exciting day when we can talk about providing and enhancing connectivity to the hospital and the medical community,” Bixler said. “This should further increase the level of service to patients that we serve and physicians who work closely with us. Rutherford Regional Health System looks forward to moving ahead with partners like Facebook and PANGAEA to continually identify ways to increase the quality of life of those who work and live in Rutherford County and the surrounding areas.”

Please visit www.pangaea.us to see the network map, customer testimonials and the PANGAEA contact information or call 828-859-3072.

PANGAEA’S mission is to build an open and cost effective fiber optic network and deliver affordable high-speed Internet connectivity to enhance economic development and improve the quality of life in Polk and Rutherford Counties

PANGAEA Internet is Key Factor in Bringing New Company to Rutherford County

PANGAEA Internet is Key Factor in Bringing New Company to Rutherford County

TRYON, NC / October 13, 2011 – The “speed of light” fiber optic internet service offered by PANGAEA Internet has been cited as a key factor in the selection of Rutherford County by Ameridial, Inc. for the location of their new call center.

Ameridial, Inc. plans to staff their new call center with 50 new employees initially, who will handle inbound customer service calls for a major health insurance company. The new call center will be located at 500 West Street in Spindale. It will initially operate 12 hours per day, seven days per week. Over time, Ameridial plans to make it a 24/7/365 operation, eventually generating up to 300 new jobs for Rutherford County.

To provide the highest possible internet service reliability, PANGAEA Internet will design a custom fiber optic network for Ameridial, which will include two diverse fiber paths connecting the facility to the internet backbone. This interconnection will ensure that if one route fails, the other will activate within 30 seconds, providing continuous service for the Ameridial facility.

The economic boost Ameridial will provide is further indication of the energizing effect that high-speed fiber optic internet service offered by PANGAEA Internet is having on the local economy. “PANGAEA Internet was a key factor for us when we were considering Rutherford County for our new call center,” commented Mark Schmidt, President of Ameridial. “In fact, without high speed fiber, we would not be able to connect to our network and our customers with the bandwidth speeds they require. Having PANGAEA support and connectivity was a must for us.”

“This is another example of how important PANGAEA Internet is to economic development,” according to PANGAEA Internet Executive Director Ron Walters. “Ameridial requires highly reliable high-speed internet service to power their operation. Our fiber optic network provides that capability. In addition, our ability to customize a network which meets their needs will enable them to serve their clients effectively and efficiently, and in turn, create new job opportunities for local residents.”

Please visit www.pangaea.us to see the network map, customer testimonials and the PANGAEA contact information or call 828-859-3072.

PANGAEA’S mission is to build an open and cost effective fiber optic network and deliver affordable high-speed Internet connectivity to enhance economic development and improve the quality of life in Polk and Rutherford Counties

PANGAEA Internet Stimulating Economic Development in NC Foothills

August 29, 2011 – Tryon, NC
Contacts: PANGAEA Internet: Ron Walters (828-859-3072 or 828-395-1155)

PANGAEA Internet Stimulating Economic Development in NC Foothills
Contact: Ron Walters – 828-859-3072

TRYON, NC / August 29, 2011 – Businesses, schools, health care facilities, non-profits and local governments throughout Polk and Rutherford Counties are taking advantage of the “speed of light” internet service offered by PANGAEA Internet to power their organizations to new heights.

As a non-profit service provider, PANGAEA Internet can focus on community needs, rather than the desires of shareholders. Economic development continues to be one of the most critical community needs, and by extending high-speed fiber optic internet service into the area, PANGAEA Internet is energizing the local economy.

A prime example of these efforts is the Mill Spring Agricultural Development Center (MSAC). Formerly an abandoned school building, the MSAC was launched in early 2010 as a resource for education, community service, and agricultural & business development. Since then, sixteen businesses have opened offices at the MSAC. “The availability of PANGAEA fiber-optic internet service has been the main reason for quite a few people moving into the center,” according to Lynn Sprague, MSAC Director. “If we had not had this type of bandwidth available, we would probably not have several of our current tenants.”

Among those tenants is Turner HD Media, a multimedia services company. Turner HD Media works with high definition video and graphics, and collaborates with designers and artists all over the world using PANGAEA Internet’s fiber-optic service. “Files which used to take literally hours to transfer can now be done in just a few minutes,” says Lynn Turner. “The ability to access this type of internet speed has had an amazing impact on our business.”

In September, a public access computer center will open at the MSAC, providing free high-speed access during the center’s operating hours. Grant funding obtained by PANGAEA Internet will provide computers and software for the center. “It’s safe to say that the MSAC is making a significant impact in the Mill Spring community and beyond,” says Ron Walters, PANGAEA Internet Executive Director. “We’re pleased to be affiliated with this important economic development engine.”

PANGAEA Internet (pan-GEE-ah) is a non-profit provider of high-speed fiber optic internet service, currently serving more than 70 customers at over 100 locations across Polk and Rutherford Counties, including public school districts, city and county governments, health care facilities, and local businesses. Visit us online at www.pangaea.us, or contact Executive Director Ron Walters at 828-859-3072.

PANGAEA expands Internet Service to Lake Lure, North Carolina

June 17, 2010– Tryon, NC
Contacts: PANGAEA Internet: Ron Walters (828-859-3071 or 828-395-1155)

PANGAEA expands Internet Service to Lake Lure, North Carolina

June 17, 2010 – PANGAEA Internet, a non-profit business headquartered in Tryon, North Carolina, is pleased to announce that it has expanded its fiber optic network to the Lake Lure area. Effective immediately, all commercial customers that are located on Highway 9 or on Highway 9/64/74A between Larkin’s Restaurant and Chimney Rock Park can access PANGAEA’s “Speed of Light” internet service. Future plans include expanding service availability east on Highway 64/74A, Bills Creek Road and Buffalo Creek Road. Note that PANGAEA does not offer residential service.

“Today’s economy and quality of life are greatly impacted by access to high speed internet and we are extremely excited to bring the benefits of PANGAEA’s community owned network to Lake Lure” commented Ron Walters, PANGAEA Executive Director.

Launched in 2003, PANGAEA has experienced dramatic growth due to the generous funding from foundations, state and local governments, and business partners. It is now operating a robust fiber optic network that cost more than $3 million and includes more than 160 miles of fiber in Polk and Rutherford Counties.

PANGAEA customers include: Polk and Rutherford County Governments; Polk and Rutherford County Schools; the Towns of Tryon, Forest City, Lake Lure and Rutherfordton; Polk County Library; Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce; Isothermal Community College; Isothermal Planning & Development; St. Luke’s Hospital; as well as many medical offices and commercial businesses.

Please visit www.pangaea.us to see the network map, customer testimonials and the PANGAEA contact information or call 828-859-3072.

PANGAEA’S mission is to build an open and cost effective fiber optic network and deliver affordable high-speed Internet connectivity to enhance economic development and improve the quality of life in Polk and Rutherford Counties

PANGAEA Internet and St. Luke’s Hospital Awarded PCCF Grant

PANGAEA Internet and St. Lukes Hospital Awarded PCCF Grant
June 8, 2009– Tryon, NC
Contacts: PANGAEA Internet: Ron Walters (828-817-0863)

St. Luke’s Hospital: Kathy Woodham (828-894-2408)

PANGAEA Internet, a non-profit business of e-Polk, Inc. headquartered in Tryon NC, and St. Luke’s Hospital, a non-profit hospital located in Columbus NC, have received a grant from the Unrestricted Fund at the Polk County Community Foundation. This $10,000 grant will allow PANGAEA Internet to extend its nearby “speed of light” fiber optic network to St. Luke’s Hospital.

Ron Walters, PANGAEA Internet Executive Director commented, “We are extremely thankful to the Foundation for funding this long awaited project that will deliver to St. Luke’s the same lightning-fast internet connection being used by Polk County Government, Polk County Library, Polk County Schools, Isothermal Community College, the Town of Tryon and many businesses throughout the area.”

Alexander Bell, St. Luke’s Hospital’s Interim Chief Executive Officer, added, “Among the many benefits, this technology will allow professional staff to review mammograms and other digital images from remote workstations, will allow real-time consultations with remote facilities and physicians, and will significantly broaden our capabilities and the resultant service levels to our patients.”

Since 2003, PANGAEA Internet (www.pangaea.us) has achieved dramatic growth – expanding its fiber optic network to 120 miles spanning Polk and Rutherford Counties NC, receiving more than $2.5 million in public funding, and now serving 42 customers at nearly 100 separate locations.

St. Luke’s Hospital provides 24-hour emergency care, general medical-surgical care, intensive care, and inpatient geriatric psychiatric care. A full-service acute care facility, St. Luke’s offers lab and radiology services, wound and hyperbaric care, outpatient surgery including general, orthopaedic and ophthalmic procedures, physical, occupational and speech therapy and in home services. A private, not-for-profit community hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital provides exceptional care, close to home.

PANGAEA Internet Realizes Dramatic Growth

February 20, 2009– Tryon, NC
Contacts: Ron Walters (828-817-0863), Stu Davidson (828-817-2919)

PANGAEA Internet, a non-profit business of e-Polk, Inc., has achieved dramatic growth in 2008. As of December 31, 2008, PANGAEA has expanded its fiber optic network to 120 miles, spanning Polk and Rutherford Counties, NC. This growth is the result of more than $2.5 million in funding since 2004 from foundations, local governments, business partners and other non profit companies.

PANGAEA’s customer base has experienced dramatic growth as well and provides service to 40 customers at 80 separate locations throughout the two counties. These customers include:

Polk County Government Town of Tryon

Isothermal Community College Polk County Library

Polk County Schools CooperRiis Isothermal Planning

Pavillon Polk County Chamber of Commerce

Rutherford County Schools Rutherford County Government

In 2008, PANGAEA generated $682K in revenue, an increase of 337% compared to 2007. The company also established a $200K emergency cash reserve to protect its network from any unforeseen damage or loss.

PANGAEA’S mission is to build an open and cost effective fiber optic network and deliver affordable high-speed Internet connectivity to enhance economic development and improve the quality of life in Polk and Rutherford Counties. Please call or visit www.pangaea.us to see how PANGAEA is impacting health care, government agencies, schools and colleges, other non profits, and businesses throughout the region.

PANGAEA Internet’s Dramatic Growth Reflected in New Website

October 7, 2008 – Tryon, NC
Contacts: Ron Walters (828-817-0863), Stu Davidson (828-817-2919)

Tryon, NC, October 7, 2008 – PANGAEA, a non-profit business of e-Polk, Inc., has achieved dramatic growth in 2008. That growth is detailed in the new web site, www.pangaea.us.

The web site accomplishes three main goals. First, it clearly describes PANGAEA’s non profit mission: To build an open and cost effective fiber optic network and infrastructure to deliver affordable high-speed Internet connectivity to enhance economic development, improve the quality of life, and create a broad platform of innovation for rural western North Carolina.

Second, it describes the scope of the PANGAEA network and customer base. The fiber optic network is now 120 miles long and extends throughout Polk and Rutherford Counties, North Carolina. Thirty four customers representing more than 75 locations are realizing the positive impact of this community owned network.

Last, the web site describes how PANGAEA service quality is second to none. Customer feedback is sprinkled throughout the site. Comments like:

“Stimulus for the economic growth of the entire region”

“Far superior in speed to DSL and more reliable”

“A huge benefit, our students now can compete”

“The best thing is the cost savings” “No comparison”

“Very satisfied” “Impressive” WOW!

The PANGAEA “Internet at the Speed of Light” network acts as a low cost, high speed, internet umbilical cord supplying vital bandwidth nutrients to the economic health of the region. Please call us or visit www.pangaea.us to see how we are impacting health care, government agencies, schools and colleges, other non profits, and businesses throughout the region.

Education at High Speed in Rutherford County

Click here to view PDF

Capturing the Promise of Broadband for North Carolina and America

Click here to view the PDF 

PANGAEA Growth Fuels Educational and Economic Development

February 27, 2008 – Tryon, NC
PANGAEA, a non-profit business of e-Polk, Inc., has gone from infancy to adulthood in four years. The original seven mile network in Polk County has expanded to one hundred twenty miles serving the major arteries of Polk and Rutherford counties. The growth is thanks to funding from both Counties, as well as e- NC, Advantage West, Z. Smith Reynolds, GoldenLEAF and several business partnerships.

PANGAEA’s fiber optic service is “Internet at the Speed of Light” which is 299,792,458 miles per second. Copper-based connections, such as DSL and cable modems, transmit at much slower speeds due to bandwidth sharing and distance limitations. At the networks one gigabit speed, a 100 meg file is transferred in 1 second. On a DSL line it can take as long as five minutes. PANGAEA is connected to the Internet via a 100 megabit fiber link to Charlotte with a diverse second connection to Spartanburg. The minimum speed offered by PANGAEA is 5 mbps download with 2 mbps upload, with step offerings of 5/5, 10/5, 10/10 and up.

PANGAEA delivers high speed connectivity to about 75 locations, including the schools, government agencies, libraries, medical facilities, non-profits, and larger businesses in both counties. Twenty-seven Polk and Rutherford county schools are now connected to PANGAEA and to their administration buildings via fiber and consequently have better connectivity and more computing power than most businesses in the area.

In December 2007, PANGAEA connected to NCREN, the North Carolina Research and Education Network. Thru PANGAEA and NCREN, students can conduct research using NCWISE, a sophisticated database provided by the State Department of Education. Its online encyclopedias and maps offer sound and video along with text references. Distance learning is also a much more valuable teaching tool with PANGAEA service. In fact, Polk County High School students are able to earn a college associates degree while still attending high school.

The Polk and Rutherford county governments are realizing the benefits as well, beefing up their applications and web presence to better serve the population. One example is that each county is implementing GIS applications which allow access to property tax data and mapping. In addition, the counties have direct fiber connections between county locations which dramatically improves the quality and efficiency of communications.

Ron Walters joined PANGAEA as Executive Director in 2007. He is responsible for the overall management of PANGAEA including: administration, sales, fundraising, budgeting and pricing. Walters focuses on the product/business strategy and has guided the organization to achieve dramatic results. Operations Director Stu Davidson manages network maintenance, monitoring, documentation, installation and support and has been instrumental in its success. The PANGAEA office is located at Tryon Town Hall.

PANGAEA is currently connecting Polk and Rutherford county customers along its fiber optic path. Please visit the website www.pangaea.us or call Ron Walters at 828-817- 0863 to discuss joining the growing number of “speed of light” PANGAEA customers.

To learn more about PANGAEA you can also attend the Broadband Panel Discussion on February 28th at 7 PM at the ICC Spindale Auditorium, sponsored by the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce. See www.rutherfordcoc.org for information.

PANGAEA Mission:
To build an open and cost effective fiber optic network and infrastructure to deliver affordable high-speed Internet connectivity to enhance economic development, improve the quality of life, and create a broad platform of innovation for rural western North Carolina.

e-Polk to add 58 miles to broadband network

November 13, 2006 – the Tryon Daily Bulletin – www.tryondailybulletin.com

e-Polk Inc. will receive a grant of $400,000 from Golden Leaf Foundation to provide broadband services to Rutherford and Polk County schools, it was announced this week by e-Polk president Jeff Byrd of Tryon. e-Polk, a non-profit corporation, operates the 10-mile PANGAEA fiber optic network in Polk County.

The Golden Leaf grant, which Byrd said should be contracted in a few weeks, will be the fourth grant received by e-Polk since its incorporation in 2003, bringing total grant dollars received by e-Polk to $1.2 million. e-Polk is currently administering a $600,000 contract with Northland Communications Corp. to expand its PANGAEA fiber optic network to 44 miles, adding 34 miles to the current footprint. This expansion should be completed by early 2007, Byrd said.

With the Golden Leaf money, e-Polk plans to add an additional estimated 24 miles of fiber in Polk and Rutherford counties, an expansion which will make PANGAEA a 68-mile network by the end of 2007.“The Golden Leaf project will provide fiber optic broadband services to most of the schools in both counties, and will enhance the learning experience for each child,” said e-Polk board member and project administrator Keven McCammon of Rutherfordton. “The original grant request was for $600,000 and we were pleased to receive $400,000, the largest awarded this year by Golden Leaf. High speed connectivity to the far reaching schools will be the difficult part of the project; however, we want every school and every child to have the opportunities that this fiber connectivity will bring.”

The project does not stop at fiber, McCammon said. The Golden Leaf grant funding will also help to establish a professional development program for teachers that could become a model for 21st century classroom instruction techniques. Budget and implementation plans are under way and more details will be available soon.

e-Polk first won a $375,000 grant from the Rural Internet Access Authority (now the E-NC Authority) in 2002 and built seven miles of fiber optic network from Tryon to Polk County High School. In 2005, Polk County government provided $70,000 to extend the network to the new Polk County Middle School campus in Mill Spring. CooperRiis Healing Farm paid to have the network extended another mile to its facilities on Hwy. 108 east of Hwy. 9 at that time. e-Polk currently serves Polk County Schools, Polk and Tryon governments, Isothermal Community College, Polk County Public Library, Polk County Health Department, two Internet Service Providers and a dozen area businesses.

Last year, Advantage West- North Carolina, the Western North Carolina Regional Economic Development Commission, awarded e-Polk $417,000 to extend its network to the new Foothills Connect Business & Technology Center in Rutherfordton. With the assistance of Northland Communications, Rutherford County government, Polk County Schools and Foothills Connect, e-Polk was able to contract for a $600,000 34-mile expansion, running from Lake Lure down Hwy. 9 past Sunny View and Polk Central schools and east on Sandy Plains Road to Hwy. 221 in Rutherford County, following Hwy. 221 to downtown Rutherfordton. The Golden Leaf grant will allow e-Polk to expand the PANGAEA fiber optic network to serve most of Rutherford County’s 20 school facilities.

In addition, e-Polk has a memorandum of understanding with DukeNet Communications, a Duke Energy company, to partner with DukeNet to expand the PANGAEA network to the new North Carolina state data center planned near Ellenboro, in eastern Rutherford County. The Golden LEAF Foundation, a nonprofit corporation, was created in 1999 to receive one-half of the funds coming to North Carolina from the master settlement agreement with cigarette manufacturers. In turn, the foundation is helping North Carolinians make the transition from a tobacco-dependent economy through grants and investments that will positively affect the long-term economic advancement of the state. It gives priority in its grantmaking to tobacco-dependent and economically distressed counties.

e-Polk signs contract to expand fiber optic network

September 19, 2006 – the Tryon Daily Bulletin – www.tryondailybulletin.com

e-Polk Inc., the three-year-old non-profit operating 10 miles of fiber optic network in Polk County, has contracted with Northland Communications Corp. to build an additional 34 miles of fiber line.

Advantage West-North Carolina, the Western North Carolina Regional Economic Development Commission, awarded e-Polk Inc. $417,000 last July. The grant calls for e-Polk to build at least 72 strands of fiber optic cable from Mill Spring to Rutherfordton in order to supply high-speed, low-cost bandwidth to the new Foothills Connect Business & Technology Center in downtown Rutherfordton.

Since the grant award was announced, e-Polk Inc. board members and project managers Keven McCammon and Jeff Byrd have been working to design and achieve full funding for the best route to Rutherfordton. The route chosen will run from Lake Lure south on Hwy. 9, past Sunny View Elementary and Polk Central School, to Sandy Plains Road following Sandy Plains east to Hwy. 221 and following that north to downtown Rutherfordton.

The longer route, serving more of Polk County and Rutherford County than a straight shot down Hwy. 108, was made possible with contributions from Northland Communications Corp. as well as Polk County Schools, Rutherford County Government and Foothills Connect, in addition to the grant funding. Northland Communications Corp. is the cable television franchisee for eastern Polk County and Rutherford County.

The project includes an extension of the Polk County government network. The Polk County Board of Commissioners voted this year to exercise the county’s option with e-Polk Inc., paying the incremental cost to add another 12 strands of fiber to that portion of the new build within Polk County borders.

In addition to supporting the project with a contribution, Rutherford County Government is also paying to extend the fiber build from Foothills Connect to its county annex in downtown Rutherfordton. Polk County Schools plans to connect both Sunny View and Polk Central schools to its existing school network.

The total cost of the project is $603,500. Northland Communications Corp. officers said they hope to complete the construction by the end of the year.

“We are very pleased that we found a way to get the most fiber connectivity possible in these two counties with the grant money available,” said McCammon. “With the help of these partners we were able to move from a 14-mile route to a 34-mile route, bringing the fiber to many more locations.”

e-Polk Inc. was formed in 2003 with a $375,000 grant from the Rural Internet Access Authority, now the e-NC Authority. e-Polk completed the original network, which is doing business as PANGAEA Internet, in July 2003. At that time, e-Polk hung 144 strands of fiber on the power poles running from the railroad tracks at Sidestreet Pizza in Tryon to Polk County High School. Additional help was received in the form of a $22,750 grant from the Polk County Community Foundation.

In 2005, the PANGAEA network was extended again 2.5 miles to the Polk County Middle School campus with $70,000 funding from Polk County. At that time, Polk County also purchased the rights to use 12 strands along the entire existing network for a government network and the right to place 12 strands in any new construction.

While extending PAN-GAEA to Mill Spring, the management of Cooper-Riis decided to pay for the fiber to be run an additional mile to the Cooper-Riis Healing Farm Road campus east of Hwy. 9 on Hwy. 108.

e-Polk’s PANGAEA network today serves the Town of Tryon, Polk County Government, Polk County Schools, Isothermal Community College, the Polk County Public Library, the Polk County Health Department two Internet Service Providers and ten area businesses.

Polk can compete in terms of connectivity, e-Polk says

December 13, 2005 – the Tryon Daily Bulletin – www.tryondailybulletin.com

If “connectivity” is the new economic highway, Polk County appears to be poised to compete with the world for the best jobs, e-Polk Inc. board members said in their annual report to the public last week. e-Polk’s PANGAEA fiber optic network, which went live in July, 2004, has already grown from seven to ten miles in length and may by next spring grow to 42 miles, they reported. PANGAEA will be a key link in the regional fiber network being developed by Congressman Charles Taylor, ERC Broadband network director Hun-ter Goosman said.

Already benefits are being felt. Since operations began, e-Polk Inc.’s biggest customer by far, Polk County Schools, has been able to quadruple its service at half the price. In anticipation of having fiber connectivity, the new Polk County Library building will be equipped for state-of-the-art services. New residential neighborhoods in Polk County are providing fiber-to-the-home options.

Growing need for bandwidth

Speaking to an audience of 75 community leaders, technology vendors and interested citizens last Tuesday at Polk County Middle School, schools technology director Dave Scherping told a story which illustrated the growing need for bandwidth.

It used to be that a “56 kilobit” data line – carrying 56,000 “bits” of data per second – could handle everything Polk County Schools needed, a few emails sent back and forth, said Scherping, an e-Polk Board member. But use of the Internet grew, and soon Scherping said the schools were leasing a “T1” line, carrying 1.5 million bits per second (Mb/s), roughly enough for 24 phone calls at the same time. (1.5 Mb/s is a typical home Internet user’s DSL and cable modem speed.)

At first, Scherping said, the schools leased just one T1 to serve the Stearns Administration building, but later branched out technology offerings to all six school buildings as well as the county bus garage, leasing multiple T1s.

Even that wasn’t going to be adequate as 2004 approached.

“e-Polk came along at just the right time,” Scherping said.

e-Polk offers options

e-Polk was formed in 2001 to take advantage of a statewide initiative, the Rural Internet Access Authority (RIAA), which amassed a $30 million grant pool aimed at bringing the prosperity realized in N.C.’s Research Triangle to the state’s rural counties by leveling the technology playing field.

The e-Polk citizen advisory group, under the leadership of Polk County librarian Mark Pumphrey and project director Ken Rossen, in 2002 won grants of $375,000 from the RIAA and $22,750 from the Polk County Community Foundation to build a seven-mile fiber optic network. e-Polk formed a nonprofit corporation in January 2003 to own and operate that network, which at first stretched just from Sidestreet Pizza in Tryon to Polk County High School.

The network went live in July, 2004 and today is profitable with 18 customers along Hwy. 108 and money in the bank, said e-Polk Inc. president Jeff Byrd (also publisher of the Tryon Daily Bulletin and author of this article).

e-Polk growth

This year, Polk County paid to extend the network two miles to the new middle school, and Cooper-Riis Healing Farm paid to continue that extension yet another mile to serve its healing and research facilities.

As e-Polk operations grew, a timely $70,000 grant from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation last summer allowed the e-Polk Inc. board to hire Stu Davidson as Technical Account Manager. Davidson was a programmer and technical support consultant in Atlanta for 25 years before moving to Lake Lanier in 2001. e-Polk’s only paid staff, Davidson now maintains the network operations and works with customers and potential clients on a daily basis from offices on the second floor of the Tryon Town Hall.

e-Polk Inc. board member Keven McCammon, a technology business consultant, described the current e-Polk network extension project to participants at last Tuesday’s meeting. McCammon said the extension project has been funded by a $417,000 grant from Advantage West, the state department of commerce economic development office for Western North Carolina. With that money, McCammon said e-Polk hopes to partner with a cable company to build as much as 32 miles of additional fiber by spring 2006.

The grant requires that e-Polk connect to the new Foothills Connect Business & Technology Center being developed in downtown Rutherfordton, but McCammon said e-Polk hopes to build a route from Lake Lure down Hwy. 9 to Sandy Plains Road and out Sandy Plains Road to Rutherfordton.

Developers need connectivity

McCammon said he is also working as a private consultant with Bright’s Creek and other developers in the area to bring fiber to the new residences in those communities.

“Real estate agents are already starting to say that if there is no high speed service available, their clients cannot buy because they cannot operate their businesses or their life-style without it,” McCammon said.

By coincidence, McCammon said Bright’s Creek had begun pulling fiber through conduits laid along its new streets in Sunny View that same day.

PANGAEA, ERC Broadband

Hunter Goosman, director of ERC Broadband, the keynote speaker for the e-Polk meeting Tuesday, said he and the Education Research Consortium (ERC) board see the growing PANGAEA network in Polk County as central to filling in a key gap in the ERC’s regional network. He showed a map of that network, with e-Polk’s PANGAEA providing a spiderweb connection between Spartanburg, Rutherfordton, Black Mountain, Asheville and Hendersonville.

ERC began as a project between college presidents in the region and Congressman Charles Taylor. Today ERC operates a high performance computing center and storage area network in Asheville, and provides services to the National Weather Service data center. Its fiber optic network, ERC Broadband, is steadily growing to connect colleges and institutions and smaller networks like e-Polk throughout Western North Carolina and Upstate S.C. The ERC network first went live in 2003, Goosman said.

Cost-effective speed for Polk County Schools

e-Polk’s July, 2004 PANGAEA network operations start-up came just in the nick of time for Polk County Schools, Scherping said. The state was beginning a project that fall, called NC Wise, in which every teacher would be required, instead of scribbling daily attendance in a book, to go on-line to log attendance in the State Department of Education computer servers in Raleigh. Now, every morning, state administrators know exactly how many students are in school across the state.

Scherping provided an overhead projection graph of Polk County Schools’s Internet usage clearly showing the early morning spikes each day when every teacher goes on line at once to take attendance.

“We could not have done it with T1s,” Scherping said.

Scherping’s office today supports more than 1,000 computers in school offices and classrooms around the county.

“With e-Polk’s PANGAEA network, we went from 1.5 Mb/s to 6 Mb/s. That level of service would not have been available to us at a cost effective basis without e-Polk,” Scherping said. The schools got four times the Internet capacity at less than half the cost multiple T1 lines, he said.

Centralized computing

Not only did Scherping get cost-effective service, but all school facilities were connected to a central school computer network, some with direct PANGAEA fiber connections. Polk County Schools owns a few strands of fiber within the 144-strand e-Polk sheath for their school network. Providing direct fiber connections to those schools not directly connected today is a goal of e-Polk, officers said. Polk County government also owns fibers within the e-Polk sheath for a government network.

A single fiber can carry all the phone traffic of the city of Charlotte. Technology experts call fiber “future proof” because, using the speed of light, its capacity is only limited by the capacity of the equipment to which it is hooked up. By connecting all those school computers, Scherping said he has been able to aggregate a lot of school computer work in one central set of servers. Instead of buying six copies of each needed software package, all the schools share one. Instead of making paper copies of job applicant resumes and physically sending them all around, principals now can view them digitally on their office computers. Purchase orders are all handled from one system, as is bus route mapping.

Teachers in most every Polk County School classroom benefit from plentiful bandwidth and Internet access today, Scherping said. Reference works needed by students and teachers are available on-line.

“It used to be that every kid in the library had to stand around waiting for one student to finish with the ‘R’ encyclopedia,” he said. “Now everyone can have access to it at the same time.” Teachers also can all access state reference materials on standard curriculum and lesson planning.

New Polk middle school: State of the art technology

The new Polk County Middle School took full advantage of the technology available today with, among other things, video conferencing equipment. Using that, students can talk to other students across the state, or share one teacher across wide regions. In one application, Scherping said fourth graders across the state are sharing their experiences in video conferences these days, mountain dwellers telling coastal residents about their lives as part of the social studies curriculum.

Students are “blogging” and creating websites, and teachers are creating websites for parents to use to monitor classroom activities. Teachers are accessing digital video libraries with video materials on thousands of subjects.

High tech for all at library

Mark Pumphrey, vice president of e-Polk Inc., said the new county library building will also be taking advantage of the plentiful and affordable bandwidth e-Polk’s PANGAEA network provides. The library will have five computers in the children’s room, 12 computers in the public Internet access area, and four computers to operate the book catalog system.

Pumphrey said the state Rural Internet Access Authority goals, in addition to expanding access to bandwidth as e-Polk has done with PANGAEA, include providing public Internet access, training and applications. For instance, he said e-Polk would like to help the county develop a countywide Geographic Information System and an e-commerce website where people can transact county business on-line.

“The technology infrastructure in the new library building will be state of the art,” Pumphrey said. “There will be laptop plug-ins and wireless connections available. In the future, we hope to have Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFID) on books so people can use self-check-out stations. The community meeting room is outfitted and ready for equipment to do video conferencing and distance learning.”

Bright future

e-Polk board member Jim Edwards, planning director for the Isothermal Planning District Commission, said that fiber optic “connectivity” is the highway system in the new world economy.

“We are going to get a network that we can compete with anyone in the world,” he said. “If we are smart about it, Polk County can be as attractive as any place in the world.”

e-Polk and Polk County Middle School: A marriage of technologies

December 5, 2005 – the Tryon Daily Bulletin – www.tryondailybulletin.com

Consider the new Polk County Middle School. The technology at the middle school is so new that the vendors had to be educated about the equipment, said Dave Scherping, director of technology for the Polk County School System.

“When we put bids out we had a problem because nobody in the area had done the level of video, audio and data integration that we wanted to do,” he said.

The school district even waited as long as possible to seek bids so that the latest technology could be acquired, according to Polk County Schools Superintendent Bill Miller.

The result is a state-of-the-art middle school, with technological resources that excite teachers and students alike. But many of those resources are dependent on affordable high speed Internet access, and until recently the cost of that access had been almost prohibitively expensive.

As recently as early 2004, the school system had been leasing high-speed telephone lines, known as T-1 lines, to connect the schools to the central office, and the central office to the Internet. But the lines were expensive, and Scherping knew he would soon need more speed than the T-1 lines could provide.

Fortunately, Scherping had been a member of the advisory committee of e-Polk, the local grass roots organization that had won a grant to develop a fiber optic cable network right through the middle of the county. The fiber optic project, called PANGAEA (pan-gee’-ah), would widen local access “roads” to the information highway, allowing far more traffic at much higher speeds.

It promised to be just the solution the school system needed, and Scherping, now on the board of directors of the nonprofit corporation, arranged for the school system to become one of the first customers.

“We essentially quadrupled our Internet capacity, and at less than half the cost of what multiple T-1 lines would have required,” said Scherping. “What’s more, we’re only utilizing a fraction of the fiber optic strands that are bundled in the PANGAEA network.”

Scherping and other volunteer PANGAEA board members are convinced that high speed Internet access will be a major drawing card in Polk County’s ongoing economic development effort to recruit new, low-impact enterprises.

“I live and work in this community,” said Scherping, “and it gives me real satisfaction to participate in such a win-win partnership. PANGAEA’s unique nonprofit status is one of the reasons the school system is able to afford the tremendous level of connectivity we’re enjoying. By becoming one of PAN-GAEA’s first customers, we’re contributing to a movement that will have a direct or indirect benefit for everyone in the county in the years ahead.”

On Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m., e-Polk is sponsoring a public meeting to bring the community up to date on advances in connectivity at the middle school, and to give people an opportunity to meet some of the Internet service providers, hosting services and other computer-related businesses that have arisen over the past few years.

The keynote speaker for the event is Hunter Goosmann, director of network operations for the education and research consortium of the Western Carolinas. Goosmann, who leads ERC’s Broadband project in supporting and expanding the existing fiber optic network in the region, will address the interdependence of regional networks and their ability to enhance one another.

Other speakers will include Jim Edwards, planning director for the Isothermal Planning & Development Commission, Keven McCammon, project manager for Advantage West, Dave Scherping, technology and accountability director for Polk County Schools, and Stu Davidson, technical account manager of e-Polk.

The meeting will be held at the newly completed Polk Middle School, which is located on Wolverine Trail just off Hwy 108 near the intersection of Hwy 9 in Mill Spring. Light refreshments and vendor exhibitors will be available at 6:30 p.m.; the speakers will begin at 7 p.m.

County schools use new fiber optic network to reach information highway

October 19, 2004 – the Tryon Daily Bulletin – www.tryondailybulletin.com

Technology advances have opened many new avenues for teaching and learning in today’s schools, but they have also presented an array of challenges. Not only do computers, peripheral hardware and software need to be kept up to date, all those computers need to be connected to the Internet.

For the past year and a half, Dave Scherping, director of technology and accountability for Polk County Schools, has known the schools’ connection to the information highway wouldn’t be able to handle the traffic much longer.

Consider the fact that 900 computers are in use by students and school personnel throughout the school system. By the end of last year, the phone lines that supported the Internet connection were completely filled for 60-70% of the school day.

Students conduct research using NCWISEowl, a sophisticated database purchased and provided by the State Department of Education; online encyclopedias and maps offer sound and video along with text references. Teachers and administrators have additional needs for research and communication. And they all take up space in the stream of data coursing through the schools’ pipe to the Internet.

To support all that Internet traffic, the school system had been leasing high-power telephone lines, known as T-1 lines, connecting the schools to the central office, and the central office to the Internet. But the lines were expensive, and Scherping knew he would soon need more of them if Polk County schools were to stay in step with other good school systems around the state.

Scherping had budgeted for connection costs up to $8,000 per month, using existing services. But, thanks to the new fiber optic connectivity available in Polk County through the e-Polk Inc. PANGAEA network, Scherping was able to buy all the connectivity Polk County Schools need for $3,000 a month, and that price is expected to drop, not rise, over time.

Fortunately, Scherping had been a member of the advisory committee of e-Polk, the local grass roots organization that had won a grant to develop a fiber optic cable network right through the middle of the county. The fiber optic project, called PANGAEA(PAN-GEE’-AH), would widen local access “roads” to the information highway, allowing far more traffic at much higher speeds.

It promised to be just the solution the school system needed, and Scherping, now on the Board of Directors of the nonprofit corporation, arranged for the school system to become one of the first customers. Because of their central locations, Polk County High School, Tryon Elementary School, Forbes Preschool and the Administrative offices in Columbus are now all connected directly to each other on fiber leased from e-Polk, and to the Internet through PANGAEA.

Scherping looks forward to the day when the schools’ internal fiber network can be expanded to include Polk Central and Tryon Middle School. For now, those two schools continue to use T-1 lines for their access to the central office.

“We have essentially quadrupled our Internet capacity, and at less than half the cost of what multiple T-1 lines would have required,” said Scherping.

“What’s more, we’re only utilizing a fraction of the fiber optic strands that are bundled in the PANGAEA network. The capacity’s already in place for us to expand at some date in the future, no matter how many more customers come on line.”

Scherping and other volunteer PANGAEA board members are convinced that high speed Internet access will be a major drawing card in Polk County’s ongoing economic development effort to recruit new, low-impact enterprises.

“I live and work in this community,” said Scherping, “and it gives me real satisfaction to participate in such a win-win partnership.

“PANGAEA’s unique nonprofit status is one of the reasons the school system is able to afford the tremendous level of connectivity we’re enjoying.

“And by becoming one of PANGAEA’s first customers, we’re contributing to a movement that will have a direct or indirect benefit for everyone in the county in the years ahead.”

For more information about PANGAEA, call Jeff Byrd, president, e-Polk Inc., at 859-2737 x106, or Dave Scherping, technical director, e-Polk Inc., 817-0818.

— article by Nancy Hiley