The Great Broadband Build: Comcast Launches 10G Network Upgrade for 10M Homes, Businesses; Metronet Invests $350M to Expand Service in Six States

Several service providers are getting ready to build broadband facilities in new communities via fiber and existing coax. 

  • Broadband Competition

In this latest issue of Broadband Communities' Great Broadband Build, we’re tracking Comcast’s 10G build-out and Metronet’s $350 million investment to bring FTTH services to a dozen new communities in six states.

The Great Broadband Build is a roundup of the latest broadband network deployments. You can send news directly to Sean Buckley, Editor in Chief of Broadband Communities, at Stay abreast of each installment of the Great Broadband Build here.

Comcast Launches 10G Network Upgrade for 10M Homes, Businesses
Comcast’s latest Xfinity 10G network upgrade will be launched to 10 million homes and businesses by the end of February. These locations now have the foundational network enhancements to begin deploying DOCSIS 4.0, setting the stage for introducing new symmetrical multi-gigabit Internet options before the end of 2023 that can be delivered across existing networks at less cost. More than 40 markets across Comcast service areas have implemented network improvements, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and others. The full deployment of these technical capabilities will reach more than 50 million homes and businesses by 2025. Recently, Comcast accelerated the transformation of its network to a virtualized, cloud-based architecture that is fully prepared for the emergence of more robust 10G technologies and DOCSIS 4.0. This network architecture enables Comcast to deliver symmetrical, multi-gigabit speeds to residential and business customers. Comcast’s ongoing network evolution furthers its commitment to provide a cleaner, greener Internet by doubling network energy efficiency by 2030. The cable MSO estimates this will avoid the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power half a million homes for a year.

Breezeline Wraps Construction Phase of Chesapeake Bay, Va. Fiber Expansion
Breezeline has constructed a $7.2 million, 150-mile fiber-broadband network to serve more than 1,400 homes and businesses in Mathews, Caroline, Lancaster, and Middlesex counties. The project was funded through a $4.2 million Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) grant administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Breezeline contributed $1.5 million towards the project, with the remaining $1.5 million supported by the counties. The first homes were activated through the initiative in May 2022. Breezeline representatives will visit homes in the project areas to discuss service offerings. Door hangers also will be left with contact information for those wishing to activate Breezeline services. The initiative is one of the multiple private-public broadband partnerships that Breezeline has pursued to expand the reach of broadband across its service areas. With support from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), and other partnerships, Breezeline has completed additional expansion projects in Middlesex, Caroline and King George counties in Virginia, St. Mary’s and Queen Anne’s counties in Maryland, and in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

Mediacom Kicks Off 10G Transition in Iowa
Mediacom Communications has begun transitioning Iowa’s gigabit network to the new 10G Platform. Consumers in West Des Moines will be among the first to benefit from this technology, including up to 2x-to-10x faster upload speeds, new symmetrical speed offerings, increased energy efficiency, lower latency, faster troubleshooting, and more excellent network reliability. The scalability of the 10G Platform will seamlessly allow Mediacom to ramp up from the 1 Gbps offers to 10 Gbps and beyond in the coming years. Since this new 10G technology uses Mediacom’s existing HFC network architecture and the connections already installed at most customers’ homes, there is no digging up of yards to add bulky equipment or bury cables required.

Maryland Broadband Cooperative Taps Ciena for Statewide Middle Mile Network
The Maryland Broadband Cooperative (MdBC), a middle-mile network provider, is employing Ciena’s transport gear to upgrade its existing 2,500-fiber-mile statewide optical network. MdBC will provide 400G transport services to its more than eighty members, which include telecom companies, internet service providers (ISPs), utilities, health care facilities, universities, and state and local government. The network will use Ciena’s 6500 T-Series Packet-Optical Platform and WaveLogic Ai coherent technology for on-demand, high-capacity 400G connectivity. Ciena’s Manage, Control, and Plan (MCP) domain controller will provide coordinated multi-layer management for the new optical network and an existing cell site network that utilizes Ciena’s 5171 routing and switching platform. With integrated PinPoint OTDR (Optical Time Domain Reflectometer), MdBC also gains proactive maintenance capabilities and faster troubleshooting of fiber cuts. Additionally, Ciena Services is providing implementation services to speed time to market, plus maintenance and managed services across the entire network to ensure it runs at peak performance.

Sertex Broadband Completes Construction of Block Island, RI’s BroadbandBI Network
Sertex Broadband Solutions has constructed BroadbandBI, Rhode Island’s first publicly-owned, privately-operated fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband network. A regional fiber infrastructure deployment expert, Sertex planned, designed and built the BroadbandBI network over the last two years after constructing the island’s Community Anchor Institution (CAI) network in 2018. Sertex aerial and underground crews and equipment have left the island after reaching the end of construction. The remaining network crews continue connecting properties to the backbone and installing fiber drops from multiport service terminals to service locations. Subscriptions are exwillto end users in the first fiber service area (FSA) in March. 

Metronet Invests $350M to Expand Service in Six States.
Metronet has dedicated more than $350 million to launch service within six new communities in six states. Throughout four months ending this March, Metronet will begin serving residents and businesses in Beavercreek, Oh., St. Joseph, Mo., Norfolk, Va.; the Iowa cities of Waterloo, Sioux City, Iowa Falls and Des Moines, the North Carolina cities of Hope Mills, Jacksonville and Hickory. And the Florida cities of Palm Coast and Altamonte Springs. This new service launch will provide access to 380,000 additional residents and businesses. Once each city’s fiber-optic network is constructed, 12 new Gigabit Cities will be added to the more than 250 communities that Metronet currently serves.

Surf Internet Secures $100M to Support Great Lakes Region Expansion
Surf Internet, a fiber-based internet service provider in the Great Lakes region, has raised $100 million from DigitalBridge Credit, a division of DigitalBridge Group. Surf Internet secured the new debt capital to support the Company's mission to transform broadband in the Great Lakes region by expanding its dense fiber networks into more communities. This investment comes alongside significant equity investment from the Company's existing sponsors, Bain Capital and Post Road Group, and the management team. The past two years have been a transitional time for Surf Internet. In 2021, the company was acquired by Bain Capital and Post Road Group to capitalize on attractive growth opportunities in the region while strengthening its commitment to bridging the digital divide across the Midwest. Surf now serves over 27,000 customers across 45 Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan markets. It offers residential speeds up to 10 Gbps and has increased its fiber subscriber base sevenfold since the acquisition. The new funding will support Surf's plan to expand its network into over 60 markets while strengthening its multi-gig capabilities. Surf is on pace to surpass 100,000 fiber passings in 2023 and has a pipeline of attractive build opportunities to double its fiber passings through 2024 roughly.

GI Partners Acquires Rise Broadband
Rise Broadband, a provider of broadband services across 16 states, has completed an acquisition by GI Partners, a U.S.-based investor in data infrastructure businesses. Additionally, GI Partners is committing new capital to improve customer experience and accelerate Rise Broadband's rollout of fiber-to-the-home services for rural American homes and businesses. Based in Englewood, Colorado, Rise Broadband is the largest independent fixed wireless internet service provider in the U.S., serving primarily rural communities.  Jim O'Brien, the Chief Executive Officer, and the current executive team will continue leading Rise Broadband.

Glo Fiber Establishes Partnership with Williamsburg, Va.’s Ford’s Colony
Glo Fiber, the FTTH unit of Shentel, has partnered with the Homeowner’s Association of Ford’s Colony to deploy symmetrical multi-gigabit fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband services to Ford’s Colony residents. Ford’s Colony is an award-winning community in Williamsburg, Virginia, situated on 3,200 acres with more than 2,700 homes. Construction will begin in the second quarter of 2023, with plans to complete the project in early 2024. Using Shentel’s 8,000-mile regional fiber network, Glo Fiber can ensure high rates, low latency, and increased reliability. The company has earned a reputation for providing superior local customer service across its markets, including the growing list of communities in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and Delaware.

Tachus Fiber Passes 100K Houston Homes 
Tachus Fiber Internet, a fiber internet provider headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas, has launched service to 100,000 homes in Greater Houston. Tachus currently offers its fiber-based broadband services to nearly 30,000 satisfied customers in North Houston. Having previously announced 50,000 homes passed in January of 2022, the provider more than doubled its footprint in 2022, with tens of thousands more planned for 2023. Tachus is expanding into new service territories with expansion activities in Porter, Willis, Humble, Huffman, and more. Tachus is leveraging its 2,000-plus mile underground fiber network to provide service using redundant pathways, ensuring reliability and consistent user experience.

Comcast to Bring Gigabit Broadband to 10K Rural Indiana Residents
Comcast has signed contracts with Indiana’s Office of Community & Rural Affairs (OCRA) to bring gigabit-capable broadband service to unserved parts of Indiana. The initial finalized agreements will enable Comcast to build to rural, unserved portions of Allen, Bartholomew, Carroll, Cass, Delaware, Fayette, Hendricks, Jennings, Johnson, Hamilton, Huntington, La Porte, Madison, Marshall, Montgomery, Morgan, Porter, Starke and Wayne counties. Under Indiana’s Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program, Comcast is partnering with the state and local governments to build and deliver fast, reliable broadband service to more than 10,000 homes and businesses across 19 counties. The projects will deploy 1,200 miles of fiber to unserved rural portions of Indiana. Under this latest phase of Next Level Connections grants, Comcast is investing $36 million in conjunction with the state’s $13.6 million to expand its network.

Over the past three years, Comcast expanded and enhanced its network and product offering to reach more residents and businesses across the state, connecting communities like Darlington, Tell City, and Thorntown with gigabit-capable speeds. In that time, Comcast has also invested more than $500 million to strengthen and expand its Indiana network. Now that these contracts with the State of Indiana are signed, Comcast will immediately start work on the multiple pre-construction priorities of these expansion projects. The company anticipates having its fiber-to-the-home network expansion completed within two years.

Alaska Communications Enhances Broadband Availability and Speed in Alaska’s Interior Region
In 2022, almost 5,000 homes in Alaska’s Interior region gained access to new broadband connectivity thanks to Alaska Communications’ network expansion. On the Fiber to the home front, ACS connected  1,200 homes in Fairbanks and the North Pole to Alaska Communications Fiber. Utilizing funding partly through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) program, Alaska Communications has expanded broadband service to 2,400 locations in Fairbanks, North Pole, Delta Junction, Harding Lake, and Nenana during 2022, offering speeds up to 50 Mbps. ACS’ plans are also helping bring connectivity to military families. It completed upgrades to its network on Fort Wainwright, with availability in more than 1,200 homes on the installation. This service, in collaboration with AAFES, brings families up to 1 Gbps/100 Mbps. Work continues in 2023 and beyond with additional network expansion in the Interior. The company is also participating in the Alaska FiberOptic Project, bringing fiber internet to 12 communities along the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers for the first time, creating new economic opportunities for rural Alaskans.

Gateway Fiber Wins $25M in ARPA Funds for Missouri Expansion.
Soon more residents in Lincoln and Warren counties will have access to fiber optic internet, thanks to $25.4 million awarded to Gateway Fiber by the state of Missouri as part of $261 million the state received through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program. The funds will allow Gateway Fiber to bring its 1 Gig symmetrical service to more parts of Warren and Lincoln Counties. This service expansion will be one of the biggest in the St. Louis region, including Marthasville and other nearby communities. Many areas that will benefit from new high-speed connections currently rely on slower and less reliable cable, DSL, and satellite internet. Local businesses will also benefit from increased bandwidth, allowing faster file sharing and a better online customer experience.

i3 Broadband Acquires Big River Broadband/Circle Fiber
i3 Broadband, a Midwest fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) provider, acquired Big River Broadband and its wholly owned subsidiary Circle Fiber, a fiber internet provider serving southeast Missouri communities. The combined companies allow i3 Broadband to expand its fiber optic footprint to residential and commercial customers across central Illinois and eastern Missouri. i3 Broadband is expected to invest an additional $100 million to grow the southeast Missouri market and provide following-generation broadband services to other communities. Big River Broadband/Circle Fiber currently serves customers in Cape Girardeau, Perry, St. Genevieve, St. Francois, Butler, Washington, Bollinger, and Scott counties in Missouri. The acquisition allows i3 Broadband to leverage Big River Broadband/Circle Fiber’s fiber optic infrastructure gigabit speed upgrades in these markets as part of the company’s expanding footprint. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2023. The two companies will work towards a full integration under the i3 Broadband brand in the coming months. 

Related: The Great Broadband Build

Sean Buckley, Editor in Chief of Broadband Communities and the host of the Broadband Ripple Podcast.  

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