Broadband Comes to Sterling

Broadband Comes to Sterling

Verizon installs fiber optics on Briarwood Court.

The chances of Sterling Boulevard taking a giant technological step forward have diminished, but a road in the Forest Ridge section of Sterling Park has received the fiber-optic cable go-ahead.

Verizon contracted Ivy H. Smith last week to install broadband — hair-thin strands of glass that deliver high-speed data, voice and future video capability — to Briarwood Court. "It’s the fastest broadband available. What we are providing is three to five times faster than what cable offers," Harry Mitchell, Verizon spokesman, said Friday. "Our fiber-to-premises network is one of the most significant advancements in telecommunications technology in the past 100 years."

Suzanne Fischer, a resident of the court, said she has wondered why it was not available before now, considering how close Sterling is to AOL and MCI. "It’s been a long time coming," she said. "It will be nice."

Francie Graves, another resident, said she believes Verizon is trying to keep up with its competition. "They don’t want to fall by the wayside," she said.

LABORERS DUG HOLES in her yard to install the cable alongside existing copper phone lines. "I hate they tore up my yard, but they did a really good job of fixing it up afterward," she said.

Mitchell said Verizon is building broadband networks in different sections of 12 states, including Herndon. The Sterling court was selected, because it comes under the geographical jurisdiction of Herndon’s Verizon switching office, he said. He expected some other Sterling roads would receive the technology, but he said he could not identify them or provide a timetable.

The three typical paths used to deliver broadband services are cable/landline, tall buildings or towers and satellite. Local and long-distance telephone providers and cable companies are competing to provide higher technology services.

The Board of Supervisors has approved hiring a director of broadband services to facilitate the development, planning and implementation of commercial broadband communication services within the county. Having better telecommunications services that use such technology is expected to draw more business to the region.

THE LOUDOUN COUNTY Sanitation Authority is replacing a 40-year-old water main on Sterling Boulevard, and efforts were underway to install fiber-optic cables at the same time. "It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, because it’s too close to the pipe," Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio said Sunday. "It’s a liability issue. VDOT probably won’t allow it."

To install fiber optics, the contractors would have to dig wider trenches along the Virginia Department of Transportation right of way, he said. There are opportunities to install the cable throughout Sterling every time a water or sewer main needs replacing, but VDOT approval would be necessary, he said.

Mitchell said Verizon has put a fiber-optic connection in the front of each house on Briarwood Court. When a resident signs up for the service, Verizon will put in a new box on the side of the house, converting the telephone wire service to handle the broadband. Verizon will provide computer software for the connection.

Verizon and its shareholders are paying for the installation. Consumers would pay anywhere from $34.95 to $49.95 a month. Residents with multiple computers and various needs would pay the higher price. For telecommuters, work-at-home households, and avid online gamers, the cost ranges from $179.95 to $199.95 a month.