Florida's Heartland Regional Economic Development Initiative, Inc. (FHREDI) announced today an agreement has been reached between the Florida Rural Broadband Alliance (FRBA) and Affiniti to provide network management and operations, and capital inv

Florida's Heartland Regional Economic Development Initiative, Inc. (FHREDI) announced today an agreement has been reached between the Florida Rural Broadband Alliance (FRBA) and Affiniti to provide network management and operations, and capital investment. This new business venture will enable FRBA to continue its goal of providing cutting-edge broadband services to public agencies, K-12 schools and rural markets across Florida.

FRBA is a limited liability company formed in March 2010 between two non-profit economic development corporations, FHREDI in South Central Florida, and Opportunity Florida in Northwest Florida. $34 million has been invested in these two regions through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) grant. Its purpose is to provide broadband coverage to unserved or underserved areas of the two regions and to create a local network that would deliver superior broadband capacity within the coverage areas.

"Affiniti's core mission aligns nicely with FRBA's goal of bringing advanced broadband services to rural and under-served markets throughout the FHREDI region,' said Affiniti CEO Darol Lain. "Affiniti is excited to reach this agreement with FRBA that will enable the region to reach higher levels of broadband speed and capacity."

"The agreement provides us a partner that brings not only network operations expertise, but a partner who has a long history of delivering broadband services to rural and under-served markets,' said Gina Reynolds, President/CEO of FHREDI and Co-Manager of FRBA. "We are now able to strengthen and expand the network, which will be used as a catalyst for job creation."

Broadband has become so vital to local communities and economic development that it is being termed a necessary utility (along with electricity, water, natural gas and telephone).
According to Reynolds, the network is bringing a new focus and promise to the region, which consists of the Desoto, Glades, Hendry, Highlands and Okeechobee counties and the Community of Immokalee. One new emphasis for the region is to determine how to best use the new capabilities to achieve its goals and address the digital divide, bringing super high speed Internet capabilities to advance education, healthcare, economic development, safety and security amongst other key areas. This will be crucial to the next leg of the journey to create new jobs and a higher quality of life.

About FHREDI:
FHREDI is a regional economic development organization representing Desoto, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, and Okeechobee Counties, the Cities of Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay and the Community of Immokalee. Leveraging regional resources, FHREDI serves as a catalyst for government and business collaboration to market, advocate and facilitate for economic development in the region.
For more information visit: www.flaheartland.com

About FRBA:
FRBA was formed in March 2010 by two non-profit economic development corporations, FHREDI in South Central Florida and Opportunity Florida in Northwest Florida. FRBA was awarded nearly $24 million through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program to deploy broadband network infrastructure throughout rural communities in 15 Counties and received an additional $10 million from community partners.

About Affiniti:
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Affiniti LLC is a leading provider of broadband communication and network services to public and private organizations across the United States. Through its middle mile networks, last mile connections and customized network integration solutions, Affiniti provides broadband wide area networking, voice over IP telephony, Internet access, and managed services to schools, hospitals, state and local governments, and private enterprises. Affiniti operates networks that span more than 50,000 square miles in 21 states. The networks serve approximately 850,000 students at 1,000 schools, as well as 45 healthcare institutions.
For more information, visit www.affiniti.com.

For more information, contact:
Gina Reynolds
863-385-4900
greynolds@flaheartland.com