The Buildout: Spectrum lights up more RDOF regions

This week in broadband builds: RDOF construction, launches (and defaults) from Spectrum; unWired taps Tarana for California network; United expands in Williamson County; eX² builds middle mile fiber in Navajo County – and more.

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

April 26, 2024

5 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 27,000 locations with fiber and fixed wireless across the US. Send us your news at [email protected]. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.

  • Charter's Spectrum announced new construction and service launches in multiple Missouri regions this week. On the construction front, Spectrum started builds to deliver broadband to 400 locations in Pettis County, Missouri, and 400 homes and businesses in Lafayette County, Missouri. The company also launched broadband services for 1,000 locations in Clinton County, Missouri; 1,500 locations in St. Charles County, Missouri; 1,250 in Saint Genevieve County, Missouri; and more than 1,700 in Warren County, Missouri. All the Missouri builds are part of Spectrum's commitment through the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), through which the company was awarded $1.2 billion to reach roughly 1 million customer locations across 24 states. Leaving Missouri but sticking with RDOF, Spectrum launched services for more than 1,950 homes and small businesses in Barnwell County, South Carolina, plus 190 homes and businesses in Calhoun County, South Carolina, as well as 750 locations in Vilas County, Wisconsin. Spectrum also rolled out services in California. Specifically, the company launched service for 400 homes and small businesses in San Ardo in South Monterey County and in parts of North Monterey County. Funding for that project was awarded through California's share of American Rescue Plan funding. Notably, in addition to its flurry of RDOF construction and service launch announcements this week, Charter also told the FCC it would default on thousands of locations it was awarded in Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin, due to "unforeseeable costs." As reported on Broadband Breakfast, Charter will turn in 133 census block groups, representing 2.4% of its RDOF locations, or an estimated 25,200 locations.

  • In California, Tarana Wireless and unWired Broadband this week announced plans to deploy fixed wireless service throughout Central and Northern California. According to a press release, unWired will leverage Tarana's next-generation fixed wireless access (FWA) platform to reach "tens of thousands of underserved locations in both licensed and unlicensed spectrum over the next 12 months." unWired Broadband was founded in 2003 and was acquired by O2 Investment Partners in July of 2021.

  • United Communications, a subsidiary of Middle Tennessee Electric, will expand its fiber infrastructure build plans in Williamson County, Tennessee, to reach nearly 8,000 underserved locations, an increase from its initial plan to reach 2,800 locations. Funding for the initial 2,800 locations comes from $14 million in grants awarded through the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund in late 2022. An additional $6 million was contributed by the county and United Communications, and United said it is increasing its investment to reach the additional locations. According to a press release, the first Williamson customers will get service in May 2024, with installations continuing throughout 2025.

  • A new middle mile fiber network is under construction in Navajo County, Arizona. The public-private partnership will see eX² Technology construct and operate 100 miles of open access, dark fiber middle mile infrastructure. According to a press release, in addition to providing the ability to boost broadband capacity, the new network will also "interconnect with existing fiber networks in the region as well as facilitate future connections to Phoenix, Arizona, neighboring counties and tribal networks, and an I-40 corridor expansion to Albuquerque, New Mexico." The project is funded using American Rescue Plan capital projects funding, including $9.7 million from the state and $10 million allocated by the Navajo County Board of Supervisors.

  • Michigan fiber provider Astrea has connected its 1,000th customer in the region of Platteville, Wisconsin. Network construction in the area started in Spring 2022 and "was completed as designed in mid-2023 before adding small extensions at the periphery toward the end of last year," according to a press release. The company expects to connect 4,000 homes and businesses in the region overall, according to a 2021 announcement about the project.

  • Kansas' independently owned ISP Twin Valley announced it will construct a fiber network capable of delivering up to 8 Gbit/s symmetrical speeds in Abilene, Kansas. In a press release, the company said it's making a "multimillion-dollar investment" to expand fiber to the region. According to US Census data, there are just under 3,000 households in Abilene.

  • Roanoke Cooperative subsidiary Fybe has completed its fiber buildout in Gates County, North Carolina. According to a press release, this expansion brings its service of up to 1 Gbit/s to nearly 5,000 homes and businesses.

  • FastBridge Fiber – which launched in June 2022 with private equity funding from Guggenheim Investments – has launched initial services on its new network in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The project was first announced in April 2023. In a press release, the company said that construction is continuing "with neighborhoods coming online in stages over the upcoming months."

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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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