The Buildout: Charter, Windstream win in North Carolina, Comcast gets $10M in Baltimore, Lumen launches 8 Gbit/sThe Buildout: Charter, Windstream win in North Carolina, Comcast gets $10M in Baltimore, Lumen launches 8 Gbit/s
This week in broadband builds: Charter and Windstream win in North Carolina; Comcast gets $10 million in Maryland; Lumen launches 8 Gbit/s; Internet Society awards EPIC grants. Plus construction and launches from Fidium Fiber, Brightspeed, Metronet and more.
August 5, 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 over 178,000 locations across the US. Send us your news right here. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.
The state of North Carolina announced $30 million in broadband grants this week through its Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program, funded through the American Rescue Plan. The grants will cover more than 13,000 households and 582 businesses in 11 counties. Charter received awards to cover Anson, Cabarrus and Polk Counties, while Windstream received an award for Union County. Other winners in the mix include Yadtel, RiverStreet Networks, Zitel LLC and French Broad Electric Membership Corp. The state's Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) did not immediately disclose how much each operator received. However, grant program rules stipulate that a "single grant award shall not exceed $4 million" and that no combination of grant awards involving a single county "may exceed $8 million in a fiscal year." In an email to Light Reading, Nate Denny, NCDIT deputy secretary of broadband and digital equity, confirmed that North Carolina has announced GREAT grants of more than $54 million for the year thus far to expand broadband to more than 20,000 households and 956 businesses in 23 counties. "NCDIT will continue to make GREAT grant awards through August until we have expended the appropriated $350 million for this round of the program," said Denny.
Charter also announced construction and launches in Indiana this week. In Posey County, the company's Spectrum Internet services went live to nearly 1,000 homes and businesses in rural and unserved areas. And in Gibson County, the company commenced construction to reach roughly 5,900 locations. The builds are part of Charter's $5 billion commitment to construct fiber in rural communities, including $1.2 billion awarded through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction.
Baltimore County, Maryland, announced a partnership with Comcast through the Maryland Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program to expand broadband to unserved rural areas in the northwest region of the county. According to a press release, the build is being paid for with a $10.7 million grant from the state, funded by the federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA). "The project, which is also supported by funds from Baltimore County and Comcast, will bring high-speed internet access to more than 850 homes," said the release. The new funds are expected to support the construction of 50+ miles of infrastructure, through which Comcast will reach an additional 850 locations. That's an extension of its existing commitment of 1,800 locations, supported by a grant awarded in 2021. Network construction will wrap up in 2025, according to the county.
Fidium Fiber, the fiber broadband service from Consolidated Communications, is now available to order for 12,000 homes in Bennington County, Vermont. That includes 400 homes that previously didn't have access to broadband, according to a press release from the company. The new network build was announced in May as a partnership between Southern Vermont Communication Union District (CUD) and Consolidated Communications, through which Consolidated said it has invested its own capital, along with a subsidy through the RDOF to cover the 400 unserved homes.
Quantum Fiber – the fiber service being offered by Lumen Technologies – is now offering up to 8 Gbit/s to some residents and businesses on its network. The company announced in a press release that it launched the multi-gig service "in cities near Denver, Minneapolis and Seattle, with more cities to come." Lumen is using XGS-PON to deliver symmetrical gigabit services.
Brightspeed announced plans to deliver 60,000 new fiber passings in Tennessee by the end of 2023. That deployment will mark phase one of the company's work in the state, which will see it reach an estimated 130,000 new fiber passings overall. Brightspeed is in the midst of a $2 billion network upgrade and aims to pass up to 3 million homes and businesses in roughly 20 states over the next five years. In addition to Tennessee, the company has recently announced plans for upgrading its service territory in Pennsylvania and Missouri.
Seven recipients were awarded $175,000 each as part of a shared grant from the Internet Society to expand broadband across their communities, according to a press release from the organization. The grant program – called the Truist Expanding Potential in Communities (EPIC) Grant – is part of Truist Cares, "a cooperative effort between Truist Financial Corporation, Truist Foundation, Inc. and Truist Charitable Fund to provide communities, organizations and individuals disaster relief and assistance during the COVID-19 crisis," said the release. The seven EPIC Grant recipients were selected from a pool of 47 applicants. They include: Connected Communities Wi-Fi Project (Washington, DC), Connecting for Good (Austin, Texas), Edgewood ISD Connected Beyond the Classroom (San Antonio, Texas), Fifth Ward Internet Connectivity Project (Houston, Texas), Sunnyside Technology Hub (Houston), Montgomery Connects MoCoNet (Montgomery County, Maryland) and Roanoke Connect (Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina).
Metronet announced launches and construction this week, with its fiber broadband services going live to residents and businesses in its initial build areas in Piqua, Ohio, where the company started construction in October 2021. Metronet also started construction on its network in Colorado Springs, Colorado, this week, which is part of its $130 million investment in the region announced earlier this year. The company's fiber builds are being backed by investment firms KKR and Oak Hill Capital.
Nearly 12,000 homes and 200 businesses in and around Kewaunee County, Wisconsin, will soon be able to get broadband from Bug Tussel Wireless, an ISP based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, that just received a $1.3 million grant from the state's Public Service Commission. According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, the funding will allow Bug Tussel Wireless (which claims the enviable initials of "BTW") to finish building a 62.5-mile fiber route to connect wireless broadband towers in the county.
Outer Reach Broadband is now live for over 1,800 homes across six-square miles in Millinocket, Maine. With monthly packages starting at $44.99, the company said in a press release that it's "providing a far less expensive alternative to cable companies and the like." Outer Reach, a Maine broadband provider founded in 2020, is delivering service using Tarana's Gigabit 1 (G1) wireless broadband technology. Network construction started in December 2021 and wrapped up in June 2022.
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