The Buildout: AT&T ups its broadband investment

This week in broadband builds: AT&T invests in fiber, 5G; Conexon Connect completes fiber network in rural Georgia; WOW starts more greenfield construction; Breezeline makes RDOF progress – and more.

Nicole Ferraro, Editor, host of 'The Divide' podcast

April 5, 2024

5 Min Read
Fiber optic cables lie on a construction site
(Source: dpa picture alliance/Alamy Stock Photo)

The Buildout is a column from Light Reading tracking broadband network deployments. This week we're tracking new construction, investments and service launches reaching over 100,000 locations across the US. Send us your news at [email protected]. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.

  • AT&T on Thursday announced it will spend an additional $3 billion by 2030 on broadband deployment, affordability and adoption initiatives. Combined with the company's investments since 2021, AT&T said it will invest $5 billion overall over the course of the decade toward efforts to help close the digital divide. As part of the announcement, AT&T also said it will continue to offer its existing "Access from AT&T" plan to ACP subscribers after the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) ends next month. The company used its press release to reiterate its continued interest in federal broadband funding, specifically the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program: "We're looking forward to taking part in BEAD funding opportunities and helping to close the country's remaining broadband gap." But AT&T confirmed through a spokesperson that its multi-billion-dollar investment is "not related or going toward future BEAD builds." The company said its investment will help connect 25 million people, though it's unclear how much of that funding will be specifically for broadband and 5G deployment or in which states the investments are being made.

  • Conexon Connect – the ISP arm of the rural fiber broadband firm Conexon – completed work on its 1,300-mile fiber network, built in partnership with Middle Georgia EMC. The $40 million project, which was announced in April 2021, now reaches all 4,800 members of Middle Georgia EMC, across seven rural counties, according to a press release. The new network, dubbed Connect, powered by Middle Georgia EMC, offers symmetrical, multi-gigabit speeds. It marks the second project Conexon Connect has completed, following the launch of its network with Southern Rivers Energy (SRE) last year.

  • WideOpenWest (WOW) this week said it started construction on its fiber network builds in the greenfield markets of Hernando County, Florida, and Livingston County, Michigan. The groundbreaking follows announcements last year that the company would expand to 80,000 new homes in the Michigan counties of Livingston, Genesee and Oakland; as well as 44,000 homes in Florida's Hernando County. WOW is working toward passing 400,000 homes in new markets by 2027.

  • Breezeline has started to activate customer locations in King William County, Virginia. The region is part of Breezeline's commitment through the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). Through its 132-mile fiber expansion, Breezeline will bring broadband connectivity to 1,500 homes and businesses by August 2025. Elsewhere in Virginia, the company is building out with funds awarded by the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI).

  • LiveOak Fiber is halfway to the finish on its fiber network buildout in Northwest Florida. In a press release, LiveOak Fiber said the fiber network is "already providing broadband services to thousands of residential and business customers" and will serve close to 200,000 locations in the counties of Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Santa Rosa upon completion. The company has invested $50 million in the region so far. In 2022, LiveOak Fiber raised $150 million from InfraRed Capital Partners for its Florida fiber construction.

  • GoNetspeed has completed construction on its $2.1 million fiber network in Rockland, Maine. According to a press release, more than 3,100 homes and businesses now have access to the company's broadband service. GoNetspeed started construction in Rockland in August 2023, launching initial services that November. The company is building out fiber networks in multiple states with funding from Oak Hill Capital.

  • Altice's Optimum announced plans to build out a fiber network to Montclair and West Orange, New Jersey. The company, which is already delivering mobile service in both markets, said its fiber broadband service will reach "thousands of residents and businesses" and is expected to launch for initial locations in mid-2024.

  • In Alaska, roughly 45 miles of fiber have been deployed over a stretch of frozen tundra between the communities of Eek and Napaskiak. The deployment kicks off middle mile work for the Airraq Fiber Network, a joint project between the Bethel Native Corporation (BNC) and GCI, designed to ultimately deliver 2.5-Gig residential speeds for 10,000 Alaskans in 13 Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta communities. Middle mile construction of the network is projected to be mostly complete later this year. The project was awarded initial funding via the NTIA's Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program ($42 million for BNC) and the USDA's ReConnect program ($31 million for GCI) in 2022. Last year, GCI also won another $23 million ReConnect grant to expand the Airraq network to three other communities.

  • Comporium has completed eight miles of fiber construction to bring its multi-gigabit services to 186 homes and businesses in two rural areas of York County, South Carolina. In a press release, the company said the $778,000 project was funded through a combination of private investment and state funds awarded via the American Rescue Plan.

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The Buildout

About the Author(s)

Nicole Ferraro

Editor, host of 'The Divide' podcast, Light Reading

Nicole covers broadband, policy and the digital divide. She hosts The Divide on the Light Reading Podcast and tracks broadband builds in The Buildout column. Some* call her the Broadband Broad (*nobody).

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