Richland gets new fiber optic cable

By Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldMarch 14, 2013 

New high-capacity fiber optic cable through Richland and at Rattlesnake Mountain is improving communications in Benton County, including at Hanford.

The Department of Energy, city of Richland and Benton Public Utility District worked together on the project, improving communication for all three. Fiber optic cables carry digital information, including for the internet.

All the agencies will have increased capacity, speed and reliability, said Jeffrey Dennison, spokesman for DOE contractor Mission Support Alliance.

DOE collaborated with the PUD and Richland to add 360 strands of fiber from downtown Richland to north Richland. That will improve communication among Hanford offices in Richland, particularly at the Federal Building, and the Hanford nuclear reservation just north of Richland.

For schools, libraries and businesses in Richland, it will provide additional high-speed and reliable fiber optic communication services.

The Benton PUD also added fiber optics to its power lines at the Rattlesnake Mountain Combined Communications Facility, the communication tower on the Hanford mountain. Now the lines will support electrical transmission and fiber optic communication.

The PUD will use some of the capacity for its advanced metering system, which collects meter data on electricity use through radio transmission. One of the PUD's four repeaters that collect the data is on Rattlesnake Mountain.

The information now can be communicated back to the Benton PUD through the fiber optic system, and the fiber optic system also will be available for other uses, including at Hanford.

"This agreement allows Benton PUD to increase its capacity and redundancy, while also helping the Hanford project," Rick Dunn, PUD director of engineering, said in a statement.

The fiber also provides additional capacity for the Hanford Federal Cloud, a system that allows Hanford information to be stored at centralized and consolidated data centers rather than on individual worker's computers. The fiber serves several DOE facilities connected to Hanford.

"Having a fast, reliable communications infrastructure is critical in supporting Hanford's cleanup mission," Ben Ellison, DOE's Hanford chief information officer, said in a statement. "This project gives DOE the capacity it needs to further the mission and allows for future growth of both the community and Hanford cleanup activities."

The fiber optic improvement, combined with affordable power rates, helps make the Tri-City area attractive to potential businesses, Todd Eckman, Mission Support Alliance vice president of information management, said in a statement.

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