This week in broadband builds: South Carolina awards all capital projects funding; Focus Broadband completes GREAT build in North Carolina; Glo Fiber to light up Williamsburg, Virginia – and more.

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

February 16, 2024

4 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, grants and service launches reaching over 50,000 locations across the US. Send us your news at [email protected]. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.

  • The state of South Carolina announced that it has awarded all of its broadband funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Capital Projects Fund. The state was approved for $185 million for broadband deployment last March. In a press release, the South Carolina broadband office said this was the third and final round of awards from the capital projects fund, with the state allocating all of its grants over the last three months. "When finished, ISPs in South Carolina will have constructed over 4,200 additional miles of fiber providing high-speed internet access to at least 33,662 housing units and 3,951 businesses," said the state broadband office, which noted the total project cost is estimated to be $290.2 million with ISP matching funds. Projects must be finished by December 2025. According to a map of funded projects from all three rounds, large ISPs receiving capital projects funding include AT&T ($10.8 million for 1,592 locations), Charter ($10.6 million for 2,044 locations) and Comcast ($6.8 million for 2,765 locations). The biggest capital projects funding winner was Comporium, which was awarded $51.9 million in December to cover 6,610 locations. And in a press release, Lumos said it was awarded $1.2 million in the latest round to reach 700 homes and businesses. Now that the state has awarded all of its capital projects funding, the South Carolina broadband office said it will next allocate $40 million from its share of ARPA State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF). That funding will be prioritized for "unserved census blocks 1) with large numbers of K-12 students, 2) that are in difficult development areas, or 3) that are without an ISP," according to a press release. South Carolina will also receive $551.5 million through the NTIA's Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

  • Meanwhile, in the other Carolina, Lumos this week said it completed engineering work in New Hanover County, North Carolina and "plans to begin construction soon" on its fiber build there. The company first announced last April that it would invest $56 million to build out 655 miles of fiber in parts of Wilmington and Carolina Beach.

  • Also in North Carolina, Focus Broadband completed its network buildout in Bladen County, making service available for over 700 homes and businesses. The company was awarded $2.9 million in grant funding through North Carolina's Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) Grant program in 2022 and said it completed its build a year ahead of schedule. In addition to the state grant funds, Bladen County contributed $216,225, and Focus Broadband invested $307,989.

  • Leaving the Carolinas now... Shentel's Glo Fiber announced that it will deploy fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) to residents of the Kingsmill Community Services Association (KCSA) in Williamsburg, Virginia. The housing community is "situated on 3,000 acres with more than 2,400 homes," according to a press release. The Kingmill construction is slated to start in Q3 2024, said Glo Fiber.

  • GoNetspeed this week launched services in initial construction areas of Lisbon, Maine. The company, which is funded by Oak Hill Capital, is investing $1.8 million to reach 2,200 homes and businesses in the area with broadband. GoNetspeed started construction in the town of Lisbon in October 2023.

  • Vexus Fiber recently launched services for nearly 1,000 homes and businesses in initial construction areas in Slidell, Louisiana. The company's construction in the region started in September and is expected to be completed next year, according to a press release. The build is ultimately projected to reach 25,000 homes and businesses. Separately, the company announced that it has introduced symmetrical speeds up to 2 Gbit/s and 5 Gbit/s across all markets. Vexus Fiber, which merged with Metronet in 2022, is also funded by Oak Hill Capital.

  • Minnesota's Hiawatha Broadband Communications (HBC) completed construction of its fiber network in Empire, Minnesota, making broadband access available to 3,100 residences. The new network delivers symmetrical speeds up to 5 Gbit/s, according to a release. Hiawatha Broadband was acquired by Schurz Communications in 2017. It is one of several regional broadband operators the company owns – others include Ohio's NKTelco; Maryland's Antietam Broadband; Vermont's Burlington Telecom; Iowa's Long Lines Broadband; and Arizona's Orbitel Communications.

  • In Tennessee, Spectrum launched broadband services for more than 2,400 previously unserved homes and businesses in parts of McMinn, Bradley and Polk Counties. In a press release, the company said it received federal funding for the project through the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), as well as grants from Tennessee's share of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

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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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