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September 26, 2016

Guest Blog: Blazing Trails with Gigabit and Network Innovation in the Upper Midwest

By Jon Pederson

CTO, Midco

Midco makes every effort to stay on the leading edge. In fact, we continuously enhance and expand our services to serve our customer base, which includes 300,000 residential and business customers in 335 communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

We recently announced that we’ll be upgrading most of our residential systems with DOCSIS 3.1 by the end of 2017 to provide gigabit internet access speeds. With this upgrade, Midco Gig downloads will be 35 times the national average and five times faster than Midco Xstream® 200 – something we are pretty proud of.
On the business front, we recently acquired Dataware, a company that provides data center space, as well as cloud and managed services. We now operate two data centers in Sioux Falls and Yankton, South Dakota, giving Midco the infrastructure to deliver business-class data center and managed services across the Upper Midwest. We have plans to expand with data center facilities in other areas in our footprint. Midco brings a very powerful combination to the table for businesses – data center and managed services connected to the region’s leading network. Businesses don’t have to bring their own bandwidth. With Midco, they can scale on demand.

Supporting all the bandwidth growth for these services and interconnecting more points on our network as it grows is a continuous process. Our core Northern Plains Network™ stretches 8,400 route miles across North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, connecting both urban and rural areas with 99.999% reliability and scalability up to eight terabits per second over fiber optic cables. This network also provides route redundancy, which allows almost instantaneous recovery from fiber cuts to maintain high availability.

In 2010, we began building out this core network with 10 gigabit per second (10G) transport waves using the Infinera DTN Platform. And in 2015, we upgraded to 100G wavelengths by deploying Infinera’s DTN-X XTC Platform. As a result, we get up to ten times more capacity on the same fiber, ensuring our existing investment will continue to deliver bandwidth growth for a long time to come. More recently, we selected and deployed Infinera’s XTM Series as a high-capacity metro network. This allows us to cost-effectively interconnect our Midco data centers and deliver high-capacity data services, including 10G, 100G and Fibre Channel, to our business customers.

We partnered with Infinera for our optical transport requirements for several reasons. Infinera’s Intelligent Transport Networks enable rapid turn-up of new services and simplified engineering and operational practices. With Infinera’s unified network management platform, Digital Network Administrator (DNA), we can manage and monitor our optical network end-to-end, from the edge to the core – and this helps us turn up new services quickly and provide rapid fault isolation if network problems do occur. But most importantly, Infinera’s product reliability has contributed significantly to the satisfaction of both our residential and business customers.

Midco takes a trailblazer approach to what we do, especially when it comes to technology and services. In 2013, the Midco Business network became the region’s first Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF)-certified Carrier Ethernet (CE) 1.0 network, and in 2016 we became MEF-certified for several CE 2.0 services, as well. And following successful lab and field trials of DOCSIS 3.1-powered residential cable modem service, we began beta trials of our Midco Gig Internet service in Fargo, ND and Sioux Falls, SD. We’re looking forward to deployment later this year and are constantly advancing our business. We consider Infinera an important partner in our ecosystem as we continue to grow and evolve our services and network.

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This guest blog was written by Jon Pederson,  CTO at Midco. Infinera thanks him for his contribution.