New Edge Extends Network to Augusta, Ga.

New Edge Networks Friday moved to expand its high-speed DSL and other services geared towards the business class to Augusta, Ga., marking one of the company’s first steps since its restructuring in November 2000.

The Vancouver, Wash.-based company has completed installation of network equipment in Augusta, and city residents can now place orders for DSL, WAN, frame relay and Virtual Private Lines. Only about 25 percent of the city will not immediately have service offered by New Edge Networks.

Following its unusual business plan of focusing on tier-two and tier-three cities, New Edge concentrates its broadband service to areas of the country with smaller populations of 5,000 to 250,000 residents. According to New Edge Network’s director of communications, Sal Cinquegrani, choosing the areas with smaller populations helps bridge the so-called “digital divide.”

“Our business plan has been built on the premise that people in the more rural cities need the same access as the people in bigger cities, and unless those in smaller communities get broadband service, they’ll be left behind,” Cinquegrani said. “Not having equal access to the best-possible technologies makes it harder for smaller communities to remain economically viable, to attract new residents and businesses to their city.”

New Edge Network’s strategy is working. Within the past year, the company has gone from providing broadband service to one city — Vancouver, Wash. — to almost 600 locations in 24 states, including the latest addition in Georgia. And while other sectors of the technology market have seen its ups and downs, the demand for broadband throughout the country remains strong. Many companies that have been competing for broadband service in larger cities have scaled back operations within the last year, some going out of business completely, due to a saturated market in heavily populated areas. According to Cinquegrani, the only real competition in smaller cities is local phone companies, which don’t offer the varied services New Edge Networks does.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing that’s happened in the markets in the past year has put a dent in the need for broadband service,” Cinquegrani said. “Broadband, as we see it, is only going to continue to accelerate, and the companies left standing will come out stronger and more successful.”

And what about the smaller towns that New Edge Network serve?

“In almost every market we’ve gone into, the local officials are enthralled about our arrival, because they recognize that broadband is the ticket out of the digital divide,” Cinquegrani said. “They look at broadband as a way to keep and attract people. People are searching for a better quality of life — they’re leaving the bigger cities for the smaller ones, but they also want to continue to work and do the things they do, so there’s no wonder why broadband expansion is working in these smaller market.”

New Edge Networks was founded in June 1999 and owns and operates a national data communications network with 17 regional aggregation points and almost 600 nodes, making it one of the largest ATM networks in the United States. A wide range of consumer and business-class DSL options as well as advanced broadband services such as WANs, LAN-to-LAN internetworking, virtual private lines and frame relay are offered. New Edge Networks plans to overlay voice, video and other value added broadband services.

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