This week in broadband builds: Minnesota's broadband grants go (mostly) to local providers; Kentucky taps Kenergy for connectivity; Meridiam breaks ground on a $230 million Alabama fiber network—and more.

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

March 8, 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 100,000 locations across the US. Send us your news at [email protected]. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.

  • The state of Minnesota awarded over $50 million in grants to support broadband deployment to an estimated 8,900 homes and businesses. The funding went toward 24 projects in 25 counties. Most of the funding went to local providers, with the largest winners being Federated Telephone Cooperative ($8.2 million), Albany Mutual Telephone Association ($7.1 million), East Central Energy ($4.8 million), Arvig ($4.3 million across three projects) and Bevcomm Inc ($4.3 million). As for larger providers, Spectrum Mid-America picked up one grant for $414,699, Midco won a grant for $801,700, and Mediacom was awarded two grants totaling $994,965. Projects must deliver speeds of at least 100/20 Mbit/s. The awards were distributed through two programs: the Border-to-Border Broadband Program ($33.3 million), a last-mile program through which providers are reimbursed for up to half of the project cost, and the Low Population Density Program ($19.7 million), for deployments in regions with lower populations and higher deployment costs, for which the state will reimburse up to 75% of the project. Another funding round for $50 million in grants will open later this month, said the state in a press release.

  • Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced a $20.4 million investment to connect 3,574 homes and businesses in Henderson and Daviess counties to broadband. The project is being built out by electric cooperative Kenergy, in cooperation with Conexon Connect, with a $10.2 million grant from the state. The project also has $10.2 million in matching funds from Kenergy. (Not to be confused with Kenergy.) The governor made the announcement alongside officials from Kenergy at Henderson County High School. The full Connect, powered by Kenergy, network is slated for completion by the end of 2026. 

  • Infrastructure investment firm Meridiam broke ground in Selma, Alabama, on a $230 million fiber project to deliver broadband to the Alabama Black Belt. According to a press release, the firm is to "develop, build, finance, and manage" the open access fiber network, which is expected to deliver connectivity to 53,000 underserved homes and businesses across a 300-mile stretch. Funding for the project, as well as "strategic, technical, and operational support" will come from Meridiam-owned FTTP developer Yellowhammer Networks. And Omnipoint will serve as the initial ISP.

  • Spectrum services went live in parts of Missouri and Wisconsin, in association with the company's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) awards. In rural Cape Girardeau County, Missouri, Spectrum launched its network for more than 1,000 homes and businesses. And in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, Spectrum is now available to 450 homes and businesses. The company is investing $5 billion in rural buildouts over the next several years, including $1.2 billion won through RDOF, to reach 1.3 million customer locations across 24 states.

  • GoNetspeed announced progress on two new networks this week. First, the company has completed its $6.5 million build in East Hartford, Connecticut, connecting more than 11,700 homes and businesses. Additionally, GoNetspeed launched services in initial construction areas of South Portland, Maine, where it's investing $8.5 million to ultimately deliver service to 8,500 locations. The full construction process is expected to be complete this summer. GoNetspeed is funded by private equity firm Oak Hill Capital.

  • Archtop Fiber is launching in Kingston, New York, after testing with a handful of residents in recent weeks. The company first broke ground in the region in November 2023 and said in a press release this week that it will turn on service for customers in the town and village of Saugerties in the "next few weeks." Archtop Fiber raised $350 million from private equity firm Post Road Group in 2022 and has since acquired multiple regional providers. According to census data, the city of Kingston has over 9,800 households.

  • Cable One's Sparklight has connected its first 2,400 customers to its $27 million fiber network in Payson, Arizona. Service will become available to the full community (8,500 customers) over the next 18 months, said Sparklight in a press release, with the full network slated for completion by summer 2025.

  • Osage Nation broke ground on an NTIA-funded project to bring broadband to 3,000 households. The $40.6 million project was funded through the federal government's Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP), and will involve deploying 200 miles of fiber and 16 towers for fixed wireless connectivity. In addition to the TBCP grant, Osage Nation received a $13.9 million grant from the USDA's ReConnect program.

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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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