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January 5, 2024
The Buildout is a column from Light Reading tracking broadband network deployments. In our first installment of the year, we're tracking new grants, construction and service launches reaching over 70,000 locations across the US. Send us your news here. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.
The state of Colorado on Wednesday awarded $113 million to 13 grantees to bring broadband to 19,000 homes and businesses. Grant funding went to municipalities including Fort Collins Connexion ($10.7 million across four projects) and Loveland Pulse ($3.2 million across three projects), as well as local providers including Clearnetworx ($25.2 million across five projects) and Visionary Broadband ($9.1 million across two projects). Funding for these projects comes from the US Treasury's Capital Projects Fund, via the American Rescue Plan. See the full list of funding recipients here.
GoNetspeed ended 2023 and started 2024 with a flurry of ongoing construction and service launches. This week, the company announced that it completed construction on its $1.5 million fiber network in Camden, Maine, bringing service to 2,000 homes and businesses. Also this week, GoNetspeed said it completed construction on its fiber network in Attalla, Alabama. The $2 million privately funded project delivers GoNetspeed's fiber service to 1,800 homes and businesses. Construction began on both projects last fall. Meanwhile, in Connecticut, GoNetspeed announced this week that it will start construction in February 2024 on a $2 million project to bring fiber to 2,100 homes and businesses in the town of Cromwell, with services expected to launch in the spring of 2024. Separately, GoNetspeed also announced recent progress on its fiber networks in North Haven and East Hartford, Connecticut. In North Haven, the company completed its $4.2 million fiber build, bringing connectivity to more than 4,300 homes and businesses. And in East Hartford, where GoNetspeed is investing $2.7 million, initial services are now live, with construction expected to wrap up this coming spring, bringing services to 6,700 homes and businesses. Also in Connecticut, GoNetspeed announced in late December that it started construction on a $3.6 million fiber buildout in Old Saybrook to bring broadband to more than 4,400 homes and businesses. GoNetspeed is building out fiber networks in multiple states with funding from Oak Hill Capital.
Vexus Fiber has launched its fiber network in Huntsville, Texas, bringing broadband to 500 homes and businesses thus far. Construction began four months ago and is set to wrap up by early 2025, according to a press release. The privately funded $15 million network buildout is expected to ultimately bring service to 12,000 homes and businesses. Vexus Fiber (which merged with Metronet in 2022) is funded by Oak Hill Capital.
Ziply Fiber announced that it has started construction to bring broadband service to the rural regions of Curlew and Danville, Washington. The project is underway, with all 200 addresses in the build region expected to get connected in "the next few weeks." Ziply received funding for this project from the NTIA's Broadband Infrastructure Program.
Shentel's Glo Fiber has launched services for initial areas in Spring Garden Township, Pennsylvania. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of this year, with the new network providing service to over 4,500 homes and businesses.
Point Broadband will start construction this month on a fiber expansion project to the regions of Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe, Florida. Point Broadband, which is backed by private equity firm GTCR, as well as Berkshire Partners, will invest $7.5 million to bring fiber to the region. Initial services are expected to launch in March 2024, and the network will ultimately deliver service to "thousands" of residents and businesses along the Gulf Coast, said the company.
South Dakota ended 2023 by awarding $32.4 million to three local service providers to bring broadband to 2,160 homes, farms and businesses. (Matching funds will bring the investment to $40.3 million.) Grants went to Gallatin Wireless Internet, which operates as Celerity ($15 million), Santel Communications Cooperative ($13.4 million) and Long Lines Broadband, which operates as Jefferson Telephone Company ($3.7 million).
Also in late December, South Carolina's broadband office awarded $112.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds to eight service providers, funding 17 projects that will bring broadband to over 16,000 locations. (Matching funds will bring the investment to $162 million.) Projects must be completed by the end of 2025. Four of the eight grants, totaling $51.9 million, went to Comporium to connect 6,610 addresses. Other grant recipients were all local providers, including Home Telecom ($9.5 million for two projects to connect 2,640 addresses), WC Fiber, Carolina Connect Cooperative, Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Horry Telephone Company, Palmetto Telephone Communications and Sandhill Telephone Cooperative.
Clearwave Fiber – an entity of Cable One – announced "significant progress" on its fiber buildout in Gardner, Kansas, bringing service to nearly 3,000 homes and businesses thus far since starting construction in March 2023. In a press release, Clearwave said the project, which will ultimately connect 5,000 addresses in the area, will be completed "ahead of schedule." (Cable One formed Clearwave Fiber in January 2022 in a joint venture with GTCR, Stephens Capital Partners and the Pritzker Organization.)
i3 Broadband announced progress on its fiber builds in Missouri and Illinois in late December. In Missouri, the company has turned on services for an additional 725 homes in the Sunset Hills and Crestwood regions; and for 1,259 more homes in Chesterfield. In Illinois, the company launched services for over 295 homes in the areas of Fairview Heights and Swansea; as well as 389 more homes in Peoria as of this week. i3 Broadband was acquired by Wren House Infrastructure in 2020.
Consolidated's Fidium Fiber launched services for an additional 2,200 homes and businesses in Fairfax and Fletcher, Vermont, in late December. The company is continuing to build out in the state, where it currently serves 110,000 locations. Consolidated, which is pursuing an aggressive fiber build strategy, is in the midst of a potential acquisition, with shareholders set to vote this month on approving a buyout by Searchlight and BCI at $4.70/share. The company's board of directors this week sent a letter to shareholders urging them to vote yes to approve the transaction. "If not enough shareholders vote, Consolidated's share price is at risk of dropping potentially below the pre-announcement price. Maximize the value of your investment and vote 'FOR' the Proposed Transaction today," reads the letter.
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