The Buildout: TDS makes moves in Maine; South Carolina gets $185M for broadband grants
News Analysis Nicole Ferraro, Editor, Light Reading 3/10/2023
This week in broadband builds: TDS is live for 5,000 Maine locations; South Carolina gets $185.8 million for broadband; Ziply Fiber to upgrade four more markets; GoNetspeed launches in New York – and more.
The Buildout is a column from Light Reading tracking broadband network deployments. This week we're tracking fiber builds reaching over 165,000 locations in the US. Send us your news right here. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.
- TDS Telecommunications this week announced buildout plans and construction progress in multiple states. In Maine, TDS said that over 1,700 addresses in Hartland, 500 addresses in Athens, and 2,800 locations in Hampden, can now access its network. Network construction is also in progress in Warren, Maine, to bring fiber to over 1,800 homes and businesses. According to a press release, the buildout is being funded with a combination of private investment and Alternative Connect America (ACAM) funds. Separately this week, TDS kicked off network construction in West Salem, Wisconsin. In a press release, the company said that its fiber infrastructure "will deliver up to 8Gig symmetrical internet for homes, 10Gig dedicated connections for businesses, plus TV and phone service for all locations." TDS further noted it will soon start construction in Bangor and Rockland, Wisconsin, as well. The buildout, which is privately funded, aims to connect over 3,000 locations across the three communities. Lastly, the company opened two new warehouses in Helena and Missoula, Montana, where TDS has construction underway on previously announced builds to reach 25,000 and 35,000 locations, respectively. According to the Montana governor's office, TDS has invested $160 million to build out its fiber network in the state.
- Ziply Fiber announced it will upgrade its copper infrastructure to 100% fiber in four markets across Washington and Oregon. Construction is set to start soon and will connect "thousands" of homes and businesses, said the company. In a press release, Ziply said this network upgrade is part of its plan to "invest hundreds of millions of dollars to build an advanced, 100-percent fiber network to both suburban and rural communities across the Northwest that have been underserved when it comes to internet access." Expanding on its buildout plan, Ziply also announced plans this week to acquire fiber and fixed wireless provider Ptera, which delivers service in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.
- Kinetic by Windstream announced during a ribbon-cutting ceremony this week that its service is now available for over 2,200 homes, businesses and schools in the Pennsylvania counties of Berks, Chester and Lancaster. In a press release, the company said it expects to add another 3,100 locations to the network over the next year. Kinetic's fiber buildout in Southeastern Pennsylvania is part of "a $2 billion multiyear capital investment strategy to dramatically expand gigabit internet service across Kinetic's 18-state footprint," said the company.
- GoNetspeed announced network launches in multiple New York regions this week. That includes a $3.7 million fiber network in Canandaigua, New York, estimated to bring fiber broadband access to more than 4,400 locations. The company also announced that its service is now available to over 2,700 locations in Palmyra and Macedon, New York, where GoNetspeed invested $3.2 million. GoNetspeed is expanding its fiber network across the Northeast with backing from Oak Hill Capital. Other recent announcements from the company include starting construction on a $2 million fiber network build in Kennebunk, Maine, which will bring high-speed broadband to more than 2,000 homes and businesses by the end of next spring. The company also completed construction on its $9.3 million fiber network in Waterbury, Connecticut last week to deliver broadband to more than 18,500 homes and businesses.
- The US Treasury Department this week approved capital projects funds through the American Rescue Plan for broadband buildouts in South Carolina. According to a press release, South Carolina is approved to receive $185.8 million – its full allocation of capital projects funds – to reach an estimated 31,000 households and businesses with broadband. The state will award those funds through its "Next, Next Greatest Thing – Main Street South Carolina" (MAIN ST) grant program. Thus far, the Treasury Department has awarded over $5 billion to 34 states of its $10 billion in discretionary funds for capital projects. (To learn more about the capital projects fund, listen to our interview with the US Treasury's Joey Wender on The Divide.)
- Cincinnati Bell's altafiber is partnering with Butler County, Ohio, to deliver fiber-based broadband to roughly 60,000 locations by December 2026. According to a press release, altafiber is investing approximately $100 million, and Butler County's Board of Commissioners is providing $10 million in American Rescue Plan funds. Further, as part of this arrangement, altafiber's smart city arm, UniCity, "will provide Butler County with up to $300,000 in funding to construct public Wi-Fi improvements."
- All West announced expansion plans in Utah recently, with the company saying it will build out more than 135 miles of fiber and duct in Tooele, Utah, to reach over 13,000 homes and businesses. According to a press release, the company is privately funding the $26 million buildout "at no cost to Tooele," and engineering and construction work is underway. All West offers residential speeds up to 8 Gbit/s, and up to 10 Gbit/s for businesses, the company said.
- Last week, the state of Alabama announced a $24.72 million round of broadband grant awards to help deliver broadband to nearly 20,000 unserved and underserved households, businesses and community anchor institutions. The nine grants went to three providers, including Mediacom Communications, Spectrum/Charter and Cullman Electric Cooperative. The bulk of funding went to the two cable companies, with Mediacom receiving $13.4 million to cover 8,190 locations; and Charter's Spectrum Southeast receiving $6.7 million to cover 9,813 locations. Cullman Electric Cooperative was awarded $4.6 million to provide broadband access for 1,356 locations. This latest round of grants was awarded from state government funds, allocated annually by the state legislature, issued through the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund.
- Separately last week, Spectrum launched services to more than 2,000 homes and small businesses in Hale County, Alabama. The build is part of the company's $5 billion investment in the rural US, supported by $1 billion through the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF).
— Nicole Ferraro, editor, Light Reading, and host of "The Divide" podcast.
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