The Buildout: Washington approves $20M for broadband

This week in broadband builds: Washington awards funding for unserved areas; Brightspeed work underway in parts of Georgia and Wisconsin; HBC constructs first phase of fiber in Farmington – and more.

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

May 10, 2024

3 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 300,000 locations across the US. Send us your news at [email protected]. Keep up with every installment of The Buildout here.

  • The Washington State Public Works Board (PWB) has approved $21 million in infrastructure funding, including $20 million in loans and grants to expand broadband access in unserved communities. The funding will go toward connecting 6,000 homes, businesses, farms and community anchor institutions. Grant and loan awardees include Okanogan County Electric Cooperative ($5 million), Whidbey Telephone Company ($4.5 million) and Klick Networks, LLC ($800,000). The Spokane Regional Broadband Development Authority was also awarded a $2 million loan; and two public utility districts (PUDs)  – Jefferson PUD No. 1 and Okanogan PUD No. 1 – will each get $4 million in grant and loan funding.

  • Brightspeed this week said work is underway to deliver fiber to tens of thousands of locations in Georgia and Wisconsin. In Georgia, the company will soon construct a fiber network to connect 15,000 locations in Hinesville and other parts of Liberty County. And in Wisconsin, Brightspeed said construction is in progress to deliver connectivity to 20,000 addresses in the regions of Superior and Ashland. That includes 15,545 locations in Superior (with 13,357 currently under construction) and 3,874 locations in Ashland, all of which are in progress, according to the company. It described both deployments as "multi-million-dollar investments." Brightspeed, which is backed by funding via Apollo Global Management and Mubadala Investment Company, announced in April that it now passes 1 million customer locations with its fiber network.

  • Hiawatha Broadband Communications (HBC) has completed the first phase of construction on its fiber network in Farmington, Minnesota, making service available for 1,500 homes and businesses. The company is investing $9 million in the region to reach 5,000 Farmington locations by the end of 2024. Construction has been underway since April 2023. HBC was acquired by Schurz Communications in 2017.

  • Charter's Spectrum launched more services in Ohio and Massachusetts associated with its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) awards. Specifically, the company said it launched service for 550 homes and businesses in Wyandot County, Ohio, in the regions of Crawford, Crane, Eden, Jackson, Marseilles, Richland, Ridge, Salem and Tymochtee Townships. Spectrum also launched RDOF-funded services for 1,200 locations in Royalston and Warwick, Massachusetts.

  • Comcast has completed work to bring broadband to 250 unserved homes along 28.5 miles of road in the town of Sharon, Connecticut, in Litchfield County. Construction began in May 2023. According to Sharon Connect, a volunteer broadband task force in the region, the town contributed $1.6 million, or roughly one-third of the project construction costs. In a press release, Comcast said its Sharon build is "part of Comcast's ongoing expansion in Connecticut, where the company has invested more than $335 million in technology and infrastructure over the last three years."

  • Los Angeles County tapped fixed wireless provider WeLink to deliver service to 275,000 homes and businesses across 68 square miles in the underserved regions of East Los Angeles/Boyle Heights and South Los Angeles. In a press release, the county said the majority of funding will come from the American Rescue Plan, with additional grant support provided by the California Public Utilities Commission. Construction is slated to start this summer, with initial services launching in Fall 2024. WeLink, which offers speeds ranging from 500 Mbit/s to 2 Gbit/s, will offer monthly plans starting at $25 to 50,000 qualified households, and will otherwise offer plans starting at $65 per month, with fixed rates "until at least September 2027." WeLink was founded in 2018 and has funding from Digital Alpha and Obsidian Investment Partners.

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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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