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This week in broadband builds: AT&T live in rural Indiana; Treasury awards $435 million to three states; FastBridge, Metronet, Magellan break ground; Alabama co-ops get millions for middle mile; more GREAT grants for Spectrum.
October 7, 2022
The Buildout is a column from Light Reading tracking broadband network deployments. This week we're tracking last-mile and middle-mile builds reaching over 120,000 locations across the US. Send us your news right here. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.
Engineering firm Magellan announced that it will start construction next month on its fiber network in Chesapeake, Virginia. The build is part of a three-year partnership with the city to design and build a 160-mile network connecting 200-plus local government sites. In a press release today, Magellan said the network will initially be deployed internally to connect city facilities, but added that it "eventually plans" to allow service providers to access the network to complete last-mile projects in unserved and underserved areas of the city. Construction on the Chesapeake network is expected to be completed in late 2024/early 2025.
The US Treasury Department announced it would allocate $435 million through the American Rescue Plan's Capital Projects Fund for broadband projects in Massachusetts, Michigan and Wisconsin. All told, the builds are expected to connect more than 91,000 homes and businesses. Massachusetts is approved for $145 million for broadband infrastructure to connect 16,000 locations lacking high-speed Internet access; Michigan is approved for $250.6 million to connect 67,857 households and businesses; and Wisconsin is approved for $40 million to connect an estimated 8,000 locations.
AT&T is connecting its first customers to its new fiber network in Indiana. The company is investing $29.7 million – on top of $9.9 million contributed by Vanderburgh County, allocated from the American Rescue Plan – to build to 20,000 locations. In a press release, AT&T calls Vanderburgh a "largely rural community where roughly one-third of homes, farms and businesses did not have access to fixed broadband service before this fiber build." The network build is expected to be complete in November 2023 and will deliver service up to 5 Gbit/s.
FastBridge Fiber – a new ISP launched in June 2022 with private equity funding from Guggenheim Investments – started construction on its full-fiber network in Berks County, Pennsylvania, this week. The build is expected to reach 7,000 homes and "hundreds" of businesses, according to a press release. The company says it will be able to deliver symmetrical speeds capable of 10 Gbit/s.
Metronet broke ground on its network in Waterloo, Iowa, this week. The company is investing $24 million to build a full-fiber network and construction is expected to take two years. Metronet also turned up speeds for residential and business customers on its network in Fayetteville, Greenville and Raeford, North Carolina. The ISP is now offering symmetrical speeds up to 2 Gbit/s for residents and up to 10 Gbit/s for businesses, in addition to its 1 Gbit/s service offering. The company's fiber builds are being backed by investment firms KKR and Oak Hill Capital.
The GREAT news for Spectrum/Charter Communications continues in North Carolina. The company announced it was awarded more Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grants from the state, including for a buildout in Scotland County for which North Carolina will contribute $1.5 million. Scotland County will contribute $25,000 and Spectrum will invest $250,000 for a project cost of roughly $1.8 million. The network build is expected to reach 210 homes and businesses, with speeds starting at 300 Mbit/s.
Spectrum also received more than $1.3 million from the state and to build in Pamlico County. The county will contribute an additional $250,000. With $330,000 from Spectrum, the project cost is more than $1.9 million and is expected to reach nearly 330 homes and businesses. And last week it received $4 million toward a $7.5 million build to reach 1,300 locations in McDowell County (Spectrum will contribute $3.4 million and the county will contribute $100,000). The company is awaiting approval on additional GREAT grants in the state and recently announced a series of other awards from North Carolina for roughly $8 million.
Also this week, Spectrum launched its network in Winnebago and Fond du Lac Counties, Wisconsin. The fiber build, part of the company's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) commitments, now brings services to more than 1,500 homes and small businesses.
Last week, the state of Alabama awarded $82.45 million to a consortium of eight rural electric cooperatives called the Fiber Utility Network. The funding will allow the group to build a "middle-mile" broadband network to help connect "almost 3,000 miles of existing and new fiber infrastructure within a three-year period," according to a press release from the governor's office. The eight co-ops involved in the Fiber Utility Network include Central Alabama, Coosa Valley, Covington, Cullman, Joe Wheeler, North Alabama, PowerSouth and Tombigbee. Funding for this project comes from the American Rescue Plan.
Read more about:The Buildout
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