State’s First Fiber Optic Community

Charles Pointe
A growing number of planned communities across the nation are going fully fiber optic, and Charles Pointe in Bridgeport will become West Virginia’s first.

Developer Genesis Partners announced its plan recently for a fiber optic network throughout the 2,000-acre mixed-use development along Interstate 79 in Harrison County. “The whole goal for Charles Pointe was to create a truly connected community, ensuring we have the most advanced broadband infrastructure for this, in essence, new city,” said Thomas Reiman of The Broadband Group (TBG) of Sacramento, Calif. TBG specializes in communications technology for planned communities and is responsible for Charles Pointe’s technology master plan.
Charles Pointe not only will be a physical community, but also a digital and virtual community, Genesis Managing Partner Jamie Corton said.
“We envision converged voice, video, and data over fiber optic and wireless networks for every physical space,” he said.

TBG and Genesis contracted with TelAtlantic Communications Inc. of Virginia, a regional telecommunications carrier willing to meet the specification for pure fiber. “In the telecommunications industry, the word ‘fiber optic’ is not always exactly as described,” Reiman said. “In this community, we decided we want a fully fiber broadband network. TelAtlantic agreed to make such an investment.”
The user experience of pure fiber point-to-point is “vastly better” than the typical broadband experience, Reiman said.

The network theoretically can carry up to 100 megabytes per second, Reiman said — speeds that will accommodate the Internet as it matures well into the future. Broadband connectivity lays the foundation for an Intranet that rounds out Genesis Partners’ vision of Charles Pointe as both a physical and virtual community, according to Reiman. “Through it we will have calendaring, scheduling, reservations, babysitter times, electronic student portfolios — really capturing the community electronically,” he said.

TBG created such an Intranet at Brambleton, a planned community in Loudoun County, Va. Brambleton’s Intranet interface offers users one-click access to community news and a calendar of events; basketball, soccer, softball, little league and football schedules and online registration for a golf tournament; and slideshows of the community’s Spring Festival and of progress on a new neighborhood under construction.

Access is available at public locations throughout the community.
At Charles Pointe, Reiman expects high speed Internet access may be provided as a common amenity rather than a subscription-based service.
“To truly create a connected community, you really need everybody online so we can really have online government, don’t need newsletters, can do voting and e-commerce,” he said.

“It’s different than the normal way in which phone and cable companies do networks,” Reiman said. “I’ve been asked by (Corton) and everyone on the project to improve the way we live our lives. That’s what I’m supposed to do.”