The Buildout: Loveland's Pulse is complete; Surf's up in Michigan

This week in broadband builds: Colorado's Loveland Pulse network complete; Surf Internet, Highline, 123Net expand in Michigan; Ziply under construction in College Place, Washington – and more.

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

November 17, 2023

6 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 around 97,000 locations across the US. Send us your news here. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.

  • Pulse, the municipal fiber broadband provider for the city of Loveland, Colorado, has completed its network buildout, covering 48,000 homes and businesses. In a press release, the municipality called the $110 million buildout, completed over four years, the "largest capital project in the city's history." Pulse further said it is "exceeding subscribership goals," with a 34.5% residential take rate (initially targeted at 32%). With the "main capital build" complete, Pulse said it will continue network construction as it connects customers and expands to neighboring regions. Pulse, back in August, announced a plan to build out broadband to the town of Timnath.

  • Surf Internet announced that it recently started construction on a fiber broadband network in Cutlerville, Michigan. Surf is investing $4.7 million in the project, which will deliver broadband access to over 3,700 homes, according to a press release. The company expects to complete construction by May 2024, "with plans to expand into other nearby communities over the next few years." Surf Internet was also a recent recipient of $17 million in funding through Michigan's Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) grant program, to connect over 3,600 locations in Livingston County. That news follows Surf's acquisition this summer of MiSignal's fiber assets, bolstering its plan to invest $20 million in Livingston County over the next three years to build fiber to 18,000 rural households. In addition to grant funding, Surf Internet is financing its fiber projects in Michigan with $100 million of debt financing from DigitalBridge Credit raised in early 2023, alongside equity funds from existing investors Bain Capital and Post Road Group.

Related:The Divide: How Loveland, Colorado, is solving its broadband gaps with Pulse

  • Another ROBIN grant recipient, Highline announced its recent $22 million award to deliver fiber broadband to 3,074 unserved homes in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The company will contribute $3.8 million toward the project and will start construction in June 2024. Highline is owned and operated by private equity firm ITC Capital Partners.

  • Sticking with Michigan, construction has started in Allegan County, to bring broadband to 12,000 locations, according to local reporting. Funding for the $60 million project was awarded via the state and county's American Rescue Plan funds ($28.4 million and $17.7 million, respectively). The public-private partnership will see 123Net own and operate an open access network, with services from 123net as well as Bloomingdale Communications (BCI), Spectrum, Truestream (Great Lakes Energy), Mercury Broadband and Midwest Electric & Communications (MEC). Work is expected to be complete by 2025.

Related:Metronet forging ahead on fiber builds without federal funds

  • Ziply Fiber announced construction is underway in College Place, Washington, to deliver broadband to 1,800 homes and businesses. According to a press release, 750 homes in the area can currently access speeds of 100 Mbit/s to 50 Gbit/s, "with the remaining ones coming online in the next few weeks." Last year, Ziply Fiber, which is building out in the Northwest, raised $450 million from its existing investment team to support its fiber expansion and edge-out strategy. Ziply investors include Searchlight, BCI, WDC, PSP Investments and CPP Investments.

  • Alyrica Networks completed its fixed wireless buildout in Polk County, Oregon, bringing broadband services to over 750 underserved locations. The build was funded in part with $795,000 received from the county via the American Rescue Plan and local grants. Alyrica partnered with Tarana Wireless on the deployment, leveraging the company's next-generation fixed wireless access (ngFWA) platform G1. According to press materials, Alyrica installed five G1 towers, covering 33 square miles.

  • GoNetspeed announced new service launches and construction in Maine this week. In Portland, Maine, GoNetspeed announced it is connecting customers in initial construction areas. The company is investing $8.5 million in Portland to bring broadband connectivity to 13,000 homes and businesses. GoNetspeed also launched initial services in Rockland, Maine, where construction started in August. The company is investing $2.1 million in Rockland to ultimately serve more than 3,100 homes and businesses. Also this week, the company commenced construction in Camden, Maine, where it is investing $1.5 million to connect more than 2,000 residents and businesses when construction is completed by the end of this year. GoNetspeed is building out fiber with private equity funding from Oak Hill Capital.

  • Metronet has launched services in initial construction areas for its fiber buildout in Lakeville, Minnesota, where it first began construction in March 2022. Metronet, like GoNetspeed, has funding for its fiber builds from Oak Hill Capital, in addition to KKR.

  • Charter's Spectrum announced further progress on its rural buildouts this week, for which the company is investing $5 billion, including $1.2 billion won through the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). The company announced it launched services to more than 1,300 homes and businesses near Columbus, Fayetteville, Montserrat, plus other parts of rural Johnson County, Missouri. The company also launched services to more than 3,300 homes and businesses in St. Landry, Acadia and Evangeline Parishes, Louisiana.

  • Mediacom Communications completed construction in southern Sussex County, Delaware, delivering broadband access to more than 1,500 underserved homes and businesses. Mediacom was awarded $11.1 million for the project last year through Delaware's Broadband Infrastructure program, with funds from the American Rescue Plan. Construction on the fiber build began in July 2022 and was completed "ahead of schedule," said Mediacom.

  • Ritter Communications announced a $2.4 million investment to deliver fiber broadband to the Arkansas cities of Pine Bluff and White Hall. Ritter is delivering fiber broadband networks through its subsidiary RightFiber. The company declined to disclose the number of locations served.

  • Construction has started in Madison County, New York, to bring fiber broadband to 1,087 unserved households and businesses, according to local reporting. Dubbed the Madison County Rural Broadband Network, the fiber network will be owned by the county and will deliver services from Empire Access. The majority of funding for the $18.6 million project came from the USDA's ReConnect program, awarded in 2021. Additional funding came from Madison County ($3.4 million) and Empire Access ($2.4 million).

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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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