The Buildout: Charter nets millions in Louisiana, Consolidated goes to Washington, and moreThe Buildout: Charter nets millions in Louisiana, Consolidated goes to Washington, and more
This week in broadband builds: Starry goes to Vegas; USDA doles out $401M; Florida co-op enlists Conexon; AT&T, Comcast, Charter get GUMBO grants; Consolidated's construction in Ellensburg, Washington; Metronet declares Greencastle a 'gigabit city'; Brightspeed's plans for Pennsylvania.
July 28, 2022
The Buildout is a new column from Light Reading tracking broadband network deployments. This week we're tracking fiber and fixed wireless builds that will connect roughly 650,000 homes and businesses across the US. Send us your news right here. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.
Fixed wireless startup Starry announced it will expand to Las Vegas, with a plan to bring 500,000 households online "later this year," according to a press release. Vegas marks Starry's seventh market launch. The service is currently live in Boston, New York City, Washington, Denver, Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio.
The Vegas news comes on the heels of Starry reporting record subscriber growth for the second quarter of 2022. According to operational results, Starry added 9,703 customers, bringing its total to 80,950, up 69.4% for the year. The company also ended Q2 with 5.7 million serviceable homes, roughly 1 million more than the year before.
The USDA today announced it's doling out $401 million in grants to connect 31,000 rural residents and businesses in 11 states. The grants are part of the USDA's third round of grants through its ReConnect program. The largest chunk of funds at $34.9 million will go to Bristol Bay Telephone Cooperative in Alaska to connect 844 people, 22 businesses and seven public schools to broadband. Other recipients include Uprise LLC, which is receiving a $27.1 million grant to deploy FTTP to connect 4,884 people, 130 businesses, 22 farms, and seven public schools in Pershing County, Nevada; and the Midvale Telephone Company, which is receiving a $10.6 million loan to deploy fiber to connect 455 people, 39 businesses and 69 farms to high-speed internet in Idaho and Arizona. See the full list of grant recipients here.
Last week, the governor of Louisiana announced $130 million in grants to build out broadband to more than 66,000 homes and businesses in 50 rural parishes. The grants are distributed through the state's Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities program (GUMBO) and funded through the American Rescue Plan. Roughly 9,800 of those homes will be covered by AT&T which received $9.3 million to cover 13 parishes (the full project cost is $18.1 million, according to a database of GUMBO grant recipients).
Other large winners included Charter at $10.1 million to cover 2,167 locations in three parishes, and Comcast, with nearly $8 million to cover 1,138 locations in two parishes. The largest chunk of funding at $28.2 million went to Star Communications, a local telecommunications company delivering service in west central Louisiana, to cover 9,249 locations in two parishes. In a statement, Governor John Bel Edwards said the state would distribute more funding for broadband later this year: "We have another $43 million in funds from the ARP we will award by October, and we are expecting an additional significant amount of federal funds from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that will be awarded next year to continue to address access, affordability and literacy."
Florida's Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) has tapped Conexon to help deliver the co-op's fiber-to-the-home network. According to a press release, Conexon will provide "network design, construction project management, engineering, and operations support" for the build which is estimated to cost $93 million. Construction is set to start in the second quarter of 2023 and estimated to take four years and span 4,100 miles of electric line. The overall goal is to deliver fiber broadband access "to all of SVEC's 28,000+ consumers, if possible," said Conexon in a statement. SVEC will deliver service to customers through its fiber subsidiary, Rapid Fiber Internet.
Elsewhere in Florida, Spectrum services are now available to roughly 600 locations in Pasco County. This build is part of the company's $5 billion investment, including $1.2 billion it won through the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction (RDOF), to expand broadband coverage across 24 states, said Spectrum in a press release. The company is offering speeds up to 1 Gbit/s in Pasco County but also offers residential packages of 300 Mbit/s and 500 Mbit/s. (Similarly, business packages are offered at 300 Mbit/s, 600 Mbit/s and 1 Gbit/s).
Consolidated Communications has started construction on its gigabit network in Ellensburg, Washington. In a press release, the company said the network will serve 3,000 homes and businesses in the region by the end of the year and offer speeds up to 12-times faster than the average speed in Ellensburg, according to data from Broadband Now. In addition to Ellensburg, Consolidated is in the process of building out its gigabit fiber network in California, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Texas and Vermont, and it aims to reach more than 70% of its existing service area with gigabit fiber by the end of 2025. Late last year, Consolidated announced the launch of Fidium Fiber, a new residential ISP arm for its fiber network that's now offering service to more than 300,000 homes across five states. The company aims to offer Fidium Fiber to an additional 93,000 homes by year's end.
Hear ye, hear ye, people of Indiana: Metronet has officially "declared Greencastle a Certified Gigabit City," as the company's fiber optic network offering at least 1 Gbit/s is now available to most of the region's residents. In a press release, Metronet confirmed it has installed more than 250 miles of fiber optic cable throughout Greencastle, making it the company's first "gigabit city." Back in June, Metronet completed a merger with Vexus Fiber through which the combined companies now serve more than 250 communities in 16 states.
Brightspeed – which expects to pass up to 3 million homes and businesses in roughly 20 states over the next five years as part of a $2 billion network upgrade – declared its plans for Pennsylvania last week. In a press release, the company committed to delivering up to 40,000 new fiber passings in the first phase of its fiber network build in the state, estimated by the end of 2023. Brightspeed aims to reach over 190,000 fiber passings across its Pennsylvania footprint in the coming years.
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