The Buildout: Verizon awarded $37M in Massachusetts; Brightspeed wins $29M in North Carolina

This week in broadband builds: Verizon big winner in Massachusetts; North Carolina awards go to Brightspeed, Charter, AT&T, others; Alabama awards millions for middle mile; Conexon to serve fiber in Rocky Mountains – and more.

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

July 5, 2024

7 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 122,000 locations across the US. Send us your news at [email protected]. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.

  • Massachusetts awarded $45.4 million in grants to four providers through the state's Broadband Infrastructure Gap Networks Program, with funding from the Treasury Department's capital projects fund, via the American Rescue Plan. Winning providers include Verizon ($37 million), Spectrum ($4.9 million), Comcast ($2.7 million) and Greenfield Community Energy and Technology ($758,734), according to a press release from Governor Maura Healey's office. The funding, paired with provider match funds of roughly $40 million, will help connect approximately 2,000 locations in 41 communities. Projects must be completed by the end of 2026.

  • The state of North Carolina awarded an additional $112 million through its Completing Access to Broadband Program (CAB). The funding will go toward projects connecting 25,903 homes and businesses across 19 counties. This funding round follows $67 million in CAB awards announced in June. One of the funding recipients in this latest round is Brightspeed, which announced in a press release that it was awarded $29.3 million to connect 11,000 locations, on top of $22.5 million awarded in the prior round to connect 10,000 locations. Other CAB recipients include AT&T, Charter, Windstream, Fybe, Skyrunner, BalsamWest FiberNET and Zito Media. Award amounts were not specified in a press release from Governor Roy Cooper's office. Funding for the CAB program comes from the American Rescue Plan.

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  • Relatedly, Brightspeed reported progress on its North Carolina buildouts, associated with grants awarded through the state's Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) and CAB grant programs and Brightspeed's own investments. In press releases, Brightspeed said construction is underway "across the Piedmont and parts of central North Carolina" where the company is working to connect 29,000 locations. Construction is also underway in southern Caldwell County, where Brightspeed is working to connect 7,000 homes and businesses in and around Granite Falls. Construction has further begun to connect 21,000 locations in and around Morehead City, Beaufort, Newport and Washington, said Brightspeed.

  • Alabama awarded $53.5 million to expand middle mile capacity across the state. The grant funding was awarded to the Alabama Fiber Network, which is a coalition of electric and transmission cooperatives working to expand middle mile fiber. According to a press release from Governor Kay Ivey's office, the funding will go toward the second phase of the middle mile network, which involves building out 1,095 miles of fiber and will connect approximately 120 community anchor institutions. The middle mile network will impact 24 counties, bringing "more than 7,500 unserved businesses and residences within five miles of high-speed internet connectivity," according to the state. Funding for this project was allocated from Alabama's share of funds from the American Rescue Plan.

  • Conexon Connect has partnered with Colorado electric cooperative Mountain Parks Electric (MPE) to serve as the co-op's broadband service provider. According to a press release, Conexon Connect will build out and deliver fiber broadband service to over 18,000 MPE members across a 4,000-mile-stretch of Rocky Mountain terrain throughout Grand and Jackson counties, and parts of Larimer, Routt and Summit. As part of the build, Conexon will lease excess fiber from MPE's middle mile network which was completed in 2023.

  • Charter's Spectrum continues to provide updates on its progress with buildouts associated with the company's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) awards. In the past week, Spectrum said it launched services in parts of Alabama, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin. In Alabama, Spectrum launched services for more than 2,400 homes and businesses in Geneva County, and surrounding areas. In Kent County, Michigan, Spectrum rolled out services for 440 homes and businesses in previously unserved or underserved portions of Ada, Algoma, Cannon, Grattan, Sparta, and Vergennes Townships. In Tennessee, the company launched services for more than 2,500 homes and businesses in Sevier County; and more than 2,100 homes and businesses in Putnam County. And in Wisconsin, Spectrum became available for 2,900 homes and small businesses throughout Outagamie County.

  • GoNetspeed completed construction on its fiber network in Ludlow, Massachusetts, making it the second community served by the company in the state. GoNetspeed invested $4.8 million in Ludlow to bring its fiber network to 4,800 homes and businesses. Construction in Ludlow started in January 2024 and initial services began launching in May. GoNetspeed is funded by Oak Hill Capital.

  • Metronet announced that it will invest $2.3 million to build out a fiber network in Belle Plaine, Minnesota. Construction is expected to begin this summer, with the first customers projected to receive service by the fall of 2024. Last week, the company also announced plans to start construction this summer on a $30 million build in Plymouth, Minnesota, with initial customers getting connected this fall. Metronet, which merged with Vexus Fiber, is funded by Oak Hill Capital and KKR.

  • Highline, an ISP owned and operated by ITC Capital Partners, announced that its fiber broadband service is now available for over 1,200 underserved residents in Watersmeet Township, Michigan. Construction on the network commenced in July 2023, according to a post by the township. In addition to Michigan, Highline is building fiber networks in Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas.

  • Windstream's Kinetic announced it is investing $250,000 to "replace destroyed communications infrastructure with a buried fiber optic solution" in Greenfield, Iowa, which suffered extensive tornado damage this spring. According to Kinetic, the build will bring 5.4 miles of fiber – adding to the company's existing two miles of fiber in the area – connecting 320 Greenfield locations.

  • Mediacom last week said it completed its privately funded fiber construction project in Lakewood Township, in St. Louis County, Minnesota. Work on the 73-mile, $5.3 million network began in May 2023, with initial services coming online in October 2023. The completed network now brings fiber access to 1,100 underserved homes and businesses, said the company.

  • C Spire has started construction on its fiber expansion efforts in Jackson County, Mississippi. Specifically, the company is working to connect 1,700 residents in Pascagoula over the next six to eight months, and 500 residents in Moss Point over the next 18 months, according to a press release.

  • Comcast last week said it activated its network in parts of Citrus County, Florida. The company has invested $8 million in the infrastructure project, according to a press release, bringing service to "thousands" of homes and businesses in Inverness, Hernando, Floral City and Beverly Hills. According to local reporting, Comcast's work in the region began last year and will ultimately reach 16,000 homes and businesses.

  • Ezee Fiber announced that it will invest over $250 million to build out a new fiber network in Albuquerque, New Mexico. According to a press release, engineering and construction is underway and customer installations are expected to commence by this September. Ezee Fiber was formed in 2021 by I Squared Capital through the acquisition of Houston fiber provider ICTX WaveMedia. The Albuquerque fiber network marks Ezee Fiber's geographic expansion beyond Texas.

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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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