This week in broadband builds: Alabama awards $148 million for last-mile networks; GoNetspeed to expand to Augusta, Maine; TDS wraps Blanchardville, Wisconsin, fiber upgrade – and more.

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

March 1, 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 63,000 locations across the US. Send us your news at [email protected]. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.

  • The state of Alabama awarded $148.2 million to 16 broadband providers this week to build out last-mile networks reaching 54,000 households, businesses and community institutions in 48 counties. The funding was awarded from Alabama's share of capital projects funds, via the American Rescue Plan. The state was approved for $182.3 million for broadband deployment by the US Treasury Department in January 2023. The largest grant recipient by far was Charter's Spectrum Southeast, receiving 23 grants and a total of $44.83 million to reach 22,000 homes and businesses. Mediacom was the second biggest winner this round, picking up eight grants totaling $22.8 million, to reach 8,000 locations. And Central Alabama Electric Cooperative was awarded $21.94 million (seven grants) to reach 6,000 locations. Other winners include AT&T Southeast, which was awarded five grants worth $6.97 million. WOW, via its Knology subsidiary, won $2.39 million to reach 970 locations; and Brightspeed, via its Connect Holding subsidiary, won two grants totaling $388,061, to reach 479 locations. A full list of project winners can be found here. This round of last-mile awards follows Alabama's announcement of $188 million for middle mile projects last month.

  • Residents of Blanchardville, Wisconsin, now have access to TDS' fiber network. The company said it has completed its fiber construction in the region, bringing multi-gig connectivity to 500 addresses. TDS announced that it started construction on its fiber upgrade in Blanchardville – where it has delivered services for 27 years – in December 2023.

  • GoNetspeed will invest $3.5 million to build out a fiber network in Augusta, Maine. According to a press release, construction will begin this spring, with the first customers expected to get connected this summer. The Augusta network will bring service to 5,000 homes and businesses. GoNetspeed is building out fiber networks in multiple states with funding from Oak Hill Capital.

  • i3 Broadband launched services in February for 3,648 homes in the Rockford area of Winnebago County, Illinois. The company first announced it would expand in the Greater Rockford region in April 2023. i3 Broadband is owned by investment management firm Wren House Infrastructure.

  • Goldman Sachs-owned ImOn Communications, an Iowa broadband provider, said it will expand its fiber network to Marshalltown, Iowa. In a press release, the company said Marshalltown is the "fifth metro service area to be added to ImOn's advanced fiber network," in addition to the metros of Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Dubuque and the Siouxland area. ImOn, a cable company turned fiber provider, was founded in 2007 and acquired by Goldman Sachs in 2022. Since then, the company has acquired FiberComm and the fiber assets of Comelec Services.

  • Blue Mountain Networks – a Northwest fiber provider formed by private equity firm ZRF Partners – said it has completed a "significant" fiber expansion project in Umatilla, Oregon. According to a press release, construction on the project began in 2023 and involved "laying hundreds of miles of new fiber optic cables throughout Umatilla County." Other providers in the region include Charter and Lumen, according to FCC data.

  • Antietam Broadband's Fiber Flight service is set to go live early this year in Carroll County, Maryland. According to a press release, the company invested $32 million to bring its broadband service to "residents and businesses in both incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county." Services are set to launch first in the regions of New Windsor, Union Bridge, Taneytown, and Eldersburg; with additional locations to come online "throughout the year." According to FCC data, the company will compete with Comcast in the region.

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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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