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This week in broadband builds: Charter goes live with RDOF and CARES Act builds; Meta supports DigitalC FWA; Cisco gets in on Neighborhood Wi-Fi; Kinetic and Conexon build in Kentucky; Brightspeed in Arkansas; Glo Fiber in Pennsylvania.
August 17, 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 200,000 locations across the US. Send us your news right here. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.
Charter announced that 160 homes and businesses in its RDOF territory in Fairfield County, South Carolina, can now access the company's Spectrum Internet services. The launch is part of the company's approximately $5 billion investment in unserved rural communities, which includes $1.2 billion won in the FCC's RDOF auction. The company expects to reach 1 million unserved customers through its rural build, which is estimated to be completed between 2027 and early 2028.
Separately, Charter also announced the completion of a $3 million build in Clark County, Ohio, funded through the CARES Act. Approved in December 2020, the company's CARES Act grant funded the deployment of 61 miles of new infrastructure in Clark County, enabling Charter to reach 415 homes that previously lacked service. As Dayton Daily News reports, Charter was also approved for additional state and federal funding to ultimately reach 1,165 unserved addresses in the county.
Shentel's Glo Fiber has announced it will deploy its fiber network to seven towns in York County, Pennsylvania, including York Township, Dallastown Borough, Red Lion Borough, Yoe Borough, Windsor Borough, Windsor Township and Spring Garden Township. The construction now underway is expected to continue throughout 2023, ultimately reaching 24,000 homes and businesses in the region. Glo Fiber has recently announced other deployments, including its first in Delaware where the company aims to connect over 21,000 homes and businesses in Sussex County. The ISP also received a $10 million grant from the Maryland Office of Statewide Broadband to deploy fiber broadband in Frederick County.
Brightspeed has shed light on its plans for its fiber network in Arkansas. In a press release, the company said it would ultimately reach over 100,000 new fiber-enabled locations in the state, including 40,000 in ten counties during the first phase of construction. Once phase one of construction wraps, Brightspeed will build to the remaining 60,000 in "subsequent years." The news follows a flurry of fiber announcements from the company, including its plan to deliver 60,000 new FTTP passings in Tennessee by the end of 2023. The builds are part of Brightspeed's $2 billion network upgrade plan through which it aims to pass up to 3 million homes and businesses in roughly 20 states over the next five years.
Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has teamed up with the nonprofit organization DigitalC in Cleveland, Ohio – one of the worst-connected cities in the US – to bring high-speed Internet to affordable housing residents. According to a press release, the Meta partnership supports the funding, installation and delivery of DigitalC's fixed-wireless broadband service EmpowerCLE+ to over 1,000 low-income households. EmpowerCLE+ has connected more than 1,530 Cleveland homes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with fixed wireless service for $18 a month.
The City of Fort Worth, Texas, announced the launch of a free Wi-Fi initiative for six neighborhoods: Ash Crescent, Lake Como, Northside, Rosemont, and, later, Stop Six. Called CFE Neighborhood Wi-Fi, the program is a partnership with Cisco and Presidio funded with $5 million through the CARES Act and additional funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARPA). According to a press release, the project is an effort "to bring free Wi-Fi to some of the neighborhoods most deeply affected by a lack of connectivity." Neighborhoods were chosen based on the city's Neighborhood Improvement Program, which determines where improvements are most needed based on a collection of income, poverty and crime data. The city noted in its press release about the free Wi-Fi initiative that broadband subscription rates will be factored into the improvement program in the future.
Kenergy – an electric cooperative in Henderson, Kentucky – has tapped Conexon Connect to deploy and launch a 7,200-mile FTTH network across its service territory. Broadband service will be delivered by Connect and powered by Kenergy, with an ultimate goal of expanding fiber access to all of Kenergy's roughly 49,000 members, the companies said. The network build is projected to cost $150 million and expected to be completed within three years. The Kentucky build marks Conexon's first in that state and follows recent news that the company was selected by Florida's Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) to help deliver the co-op's fiber-to-the-home network. Conexon is also serving as an ISP through its Connect arm for a Georgia electric cooperative, as discussed with Light Reading on a recent episode of The Divide.
Sticking with Kentucky, Windstream's Kinetic has launched services to nearly 1,400 previously unserved homes and businesses in Grayson, Kentucky. The build, which started in December 2021 and wrapped up in June 2022, is the result of a partnership between the city council and Kinetic, which saw a joint investment of $550,000 from Kinetic and $250,000 from the city's COVID relief funding, according to the Carter County Times. Kinetic is in the midst of a $2 billion capital investment to expand gigabit broadband services across its footprint in 18 states.
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