The Buildout: NTIA awards remaining $50M in Middle Mile grantsThe Buildout: NTIA awards remaining $50M in Middle Mile grants
This week in broadband builds: NTIA awards $50 million for middle mile to four states; Kentucky awards $196 million in grants to Charter and others; WOW expands in Michigan – and much more.
September 8, 2023
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 150,000 locations across the US. Send us your news here. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.
The NTIA awarded nearly $50 million in remaining funding through the $1 billion Middle Mile program. The funding will go to four projects to expand middle mile infrastructure in New Hampshire, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming. "With these grants, all funding for grant awards from the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program has been awarded to 36 organizations across 40 states and territories. No additional awards will be announced," said the NTIA in a press release. The agency added that the projects will cover more than 27 counties across the four states, deploying 518.5 miles of fiber "that will pass within 1,000 feet of 164 community anchor institutions." The four awards went to the County of Grafton ($11.96 million; New Hampshire), Blue Ridge Advisory Services Group ($20.35 million; Tennessee), Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation ($16.39 million; Virginia) and Visionary Communications ($1.26 million; Wyoming). Awardees will invest an additional $23 million in matching funds. This funding round follows the NTIA's initial announcement of $930 million in Middle Mile grants back in June.
The state of Kentucky awarded $196 million in broadband grants to expand high-speed Internet access to 42,600 homes and businesses in 46 counties. With provider matching funds for the 56 awarded projects, the total investment comes to $386 million. In a press release from Governor Andy Beshear's office, the state said the funding "will allow providers to run fiber to each location," and that more than 25,000 of the awarded locations currently have "no service." The big winner this round was Spectrum Mid-America (Charter), which was awarded $116 million for 27 projects. Other winners include APB Partners ($21.5 million), Pennyrile Electric Cooperative ($12 million), Cellular Services ($11.2 million) and Broadlinc ($9.2 million).
In other Charter news, the company this week announced service launches associated with its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) buildouts in Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia. In Michigan, the company said its services are now available to more than 550 homes and small businesses in New Haven Township. In Virginia, service is available for more than 900 homes and small businesses in Isle of Wight County. And in North Carolina, service is available for more than 150 homes and small businesses in Scotland County. Also in North Carolina, Charter/Spectrum announced two additional Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grants worth $3.1 million to bring broadband to nearly 740 locations in Catawba County; and $1 million to bring broadband to 270 locations in Pitt County. The grants are in addition to the $11.4 million in GREAT grants the company announced last week.
Wide Open West (WOW!) announced it has started construction in Michigan to bring fiber to the counties of Livingston, Genesee and Oakland "in the coming months," as part of its greenfield buildout strategy. In a press release, WOW said it expects to add over 80,000 homes through this buildout. That brings its 2027 target of greenfield homes passed up to 260,000, and overall new homes passed to 400,000, said the company. According to WOW, the first Michigan communities to benefit from this build will include Brighton, Milford, Commerce Township, Wixom and Hartland.
The US Treasury Department awarded $85.7 million in broadband infrastructure funds to Puerto Rico. The funding, awarded through the federal government's capital projects fund via the American Rescue Plan, will go toward building the Puerto Rico Submarine Cable Resiliency Program (PRSCR). The project aims to improve "the resiliency and reliability" of broadband in Puerto Rico by constructing a new submarine fiber route to Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic and the US Virgin Islands, with three new cable landing stations on the island's coastlines, according to a fact sheet. Puerto Rico was further awarded $64.7 million to deliver connectivity through multi-purpose community technology centers. Puerto Rico will also receive $334.6 million through the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program to close its remaining connectivity gaps, according to allocations announced in June.
GoNetspeed announced new projects in Alabama and Maine this week. The company will start construction this fall on a $2 million fiber network to connect more than 1,800 locations in Attalla, Alabama. Service is expected "as early as winter of 2023," said the company. In Portland, Maine, GoNetspeed is investing $8.5 million to bring broadband to more than 13,000 locations. Construction is underway and expected to be completed by the end of the year, with services coming online "as early as this fall," according to the company. GoNetspeed is building out with funding from Oak Hill Capital.
Another company building out full-fiber networks with funds from Oak Hill Capital, Metronet this week announced it is now available to residents in initial construction areas throughout Waconia, Minnesota. Construction in the region began in November 2022. The news follows an announcement last week that Metronet is available to initial customers in Le Center, Minnesota, as well, where construction started in February 2022.
Bulk Internet provider Lux Speed this week held a groundbreaking ceremony in Alexandria, Virginia, to kick off construction on a fiber network for Oakville: a mixed-use development. In a press release, the company said the first phase of the project will be delivered "in early 2024," with the full project slated for completion by summer 2024. All in all, the project will serve "572 new apartment units, 37,000 square feet of retail space, 84 luxury townhomes, and a new Inova Medical and Emergency Facility," said the company.
Comcast announced that work is underway to deliver broadband to 3,500 underserved homes in Bossier City, Louisiana. The company, which won a $304,000 grant through Louisiana's Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) program in January for some of its work in Bossier Parish, expects to provide service by the end of 2023.
Highline, an ISP in Michigan, announced that it has completed construction of its 823-mile fiber optic network in "The Thumb," bringing broadband to over 8,000 homes in the counties of Sanilac, Tuscola, Lapeer and St. Clair. Highline, which is owned and operated by private equity firm ITC Capital Partners, received partial funding for this build from the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and was able to complete this project in two years.
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