The Great Broadband Build: Frontier Ramps Connecticut Fiber Build; AT&T Strikes Rural Indiana Public-Private Partnership

The Great Broadband Build is a new weekly online news feature Broadband Communities is developing to track the ongoing last mile and middle mile deployments across the U.S.

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Several providers announced critical broadband builds over the past week: Frontier Invests $800 Million to Expand Fiber in Connecticut; AT&T Launches Fiber Broadband in Rural Vanderburgh County, Indiana; Omni Fiber Expands Fiber Network to Additional Ohio Communities; Southern Vermont Communications Union District Wins $9 Million Broadband Grant; Great Plains Communications Expands Chadron, Nebraska Fiber Footprint ; Block Island, RI Fiber Network Nears Completion; Governor Ivey Awards $82.5 Million for Alabama Middle-Mile Network; New Hampshire Electric Cooperative and Conexon Expand Partnership; Magellan, City of Chesapeake Start Building City's Broadband Network; Alaska’s Bethel Native Corporation Secures NTIA Grant; Volt Broadband Taps Adtran for its Fiber Broadband Project.

AT&T Strikes Public-Private Fiber Partnership with Vanderburgh County, Indiana
AT&T will supply Vanderburgh County, Indiana, with a new FTTH network—one of the latest public-private partnerships created by the telco and a local community. AT&T is building fiber to more than 20,000 locations in the county – a largely rural community where roughly one-third of homes, farms and businesses did not have access to wireline broadband service before this fiber build. Vanderburgh County officials used federal funds made available by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2020 to bring fiber broadband to the area. Under that agreement, Vanderburgh County contributed $9.9 million in public funds to the project, and AT&T covered the remaining $29.7 million. Vanderburgh County officials recently agreed to extend the network to 90 additional locations, bringing fiber coverage to more unincorporated parts of the county. AT&T worked quickly to get the benefits of fiber to Vanderburgh County residents and businesses. The network core became operational only seven months after the finalized contract agreement. That allowed AT&T to connect the first fiber locations earlier than expected. The project will be completed by November 2023.

Frontier Sets Aggressive Fiber Plan for Connecticut
Frontier plans to expand its fiber network in Connecticut to about 800,000 homes and businesses in its home state of Connecticut by the end of 2025, with an investment of approximately $800 million. Since its fiber build began in late 2020, Frontier has built fiber to over 500,000 homes and businesses in more than 70 towns across the state – including urban centers, such as Hartford, Norwalk, and Bridgeport; suburban areas, such as West Hartford, North Haven, and Glastonbury; and rural areas such as Union and Stafford Springs. Frontier is deploying more than one thousand team members across Connecticut to install fiber in new places, including Windsor Locks, East Windsor, and Stafford Springs, with plans to grow its fiber footprint in the state by roughly 60 percent by the end of 2025.

Omni Fiber Expands Fiber Network to Additional Ohio Communities
Omni Fiber, an emerging Midwest-based Fiber-To-The-Premises (FTTP) provider, announced three additional markets in Ohio: Bellevue, Huron, and Sandusky. This adds to the previously announced Ohio towns, including Clyde, Dover, Shelby, and Tiffin. Construction is nearing completion in Omni's first 3 Ohio markets (Clyde, Dover, and Shelby), and construction will begin in Huron and Bellevue in the coming weeks, with Tiffin and Sandusky’s construction planned to start in the coming months. Services available will include Fiber Internet with speeds up to 2 Gbps, traditional or streaming TV, and Phone. Omni Fiber is proud to offer a new choice in Internet service with symmetrical speeds, no data caps, no installation charges, no hidden fees, Premium Wi-Fi included, a 30-day money-back guarantee, and Ohio-based sales and customer service. Business solutions will also soon be offered. With the Omni Fiber hero discount, a $50 credit is also available for active military Veterans, teachers, and first responders.

Southern Vermont Communications Union District Wins $9 Million Broadband Grant
The Southern Vermont Communications Union District (So VT CUD) recently received approval for its $9 million internet fiber construction grant from the Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB). The grant and a $3.3 million investment from Consolidated Communications will cover 6,412 addresses across southern Vermont. The CUD, in partnership with Consolidated Communications, who will build, maintain and operate the network, expects all unserved and underserved residents in 14 towns in the CUD to have access to Fidium Fiber’s multi-gigabit speed internet in 2023 at competitive prices. Consolidated is investing $10.8 million to build more than 13,000 additional addresses not covered by the grant, bringing the total number of homes to 19,000. Service will be delivered by Fidium, Consolidated’s residential fiber brand. A portion of Consolidated’s investment is also supported by the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program. The So VT CUD currently represents the towns of Arlington, Bennington, Dorset, Landgrove, Londonderry, Manchester, Peru, Pownal, Rupert, Sandgate, Shaftsbury, Sunderland, Winhall and Woodford.

Great Plains Communications Expands Chadron, Nebraska Fiber Footprint
Great Plains Communications (GPC) will build a fiber-to-the-home and business network throughout the City of Chadron, Nebraska, expanding off the ten fiber miles in this GPC community. The overbuild will also allow GPC to provide enhanced fiber-driven products and services, including symmetrical gigabit-Internet speeds throughout Chadron. Great Plains Communications will ultimately fund the project. The Chadron project will be completed in phases, with construction beginning in the spring of 2023. This endeavor is one of many fiber-forward community projects that Great Plains Communications will start in 2023 as they continue to grow their network and extend broadband services to more urban and rural midwestern homes and businesses.

Alaska’s Bethel Native Corporation Secures NTIA Grant
Bethel Native Corporation (BNC) was awarded a $42.4 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program to deploy a 405-mile fiber network from Dillingham to Bethel, Alaska. The project, to be completed in partnership with Alaska telecommunications provider GCI, will bring urban-level 2 gig internet service to consumers in Bethel and Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y-K) communities along the fiber route. The BNC/GCI fiber project will follow a submarine route from Dillingham — where it will connect with a planned Nushagak Electric & Telephone Cooperative long-haul fiber project — to the mouth of the Kuskokwim River, then follow an overland route the remainder of the way to Bethel. GCI will also upgrade its local access network in Bethel and install fiber to the home in Platinum, Eek, Napaskiak and Oscarville.

Volt Broadband Launches Louisiana Rural Broadband Project
Volt Broadband is leveraging Adtran’s fiber broadband solution to launch fiber broadband services in rural Louisiana. As an internet service provider (ISP) and a Northeast Louisiana Power Cooperative subsidiary, Volt Broadband is a Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) recipient. The ISP is leveraging the funding to satisfy the need for connectivity in a region where most rural communities have been severely underserved until now. Volt Broadband’s network includes 2,000 fiber miles and passes 11,500 homes. The ISP connected its first customer in September 2022. Currently, Volt Broadband offers its residential customers broadband speeds up to a Gigabit, while businesses can purchase multi-gigabit services. The rural communities Volt Broadband serves are home to many farms, and the ISP hopes its fiber broadband infrastructure will empower subscribers to adopt precision agriculture applications. Volt Broadband is helping them research new approaches to farming that leverage connected sensors to monitor better and automate the management of moisture meters, grain bins, aquatic tanks and more.

New Hampshire Electric Cooperative and Conexon Expand Partnership
Conexon and New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) are expanding their partnership to bring fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service across the cooperative's territory. NHEC and Conexon have worked together to provide gigabit-speed internet access to two communities, Acworth and Sandwich, and will soon expand to 32 communities throughout Grafton County. NH Broadband, the co-op's fiber subsidiary, will ultimately offer high-speed fiber internet service that spans nine counties and nearly 120 communities. Service is available today for customers in Acworth, Sandwich, Clarksville, Colebrook, Lempster, and Stewartstown and is expected to be open to initial customers in Grafton County by the First Quarter of 2023.

Rhode Island’s Block Island Nearly Completes Fiber Build
Sertex Broadband Solutions construction crews extended underground fiber conduit onto the dock at Block Island’s Great Salt Pond. The work was completed in preparation for the installation of high-speed fiber internet. Images show a Sertex crew member attaching fiber conduit along the dock’s bridge deck and girders to the harbormaster’s shack. Construction workers wore flotation equipment and carefully timed installation to ensure safety, considering the weather and tide-related changes in water levels. The first municipally-owned fiber network in Rhode Island, BroadbandBI, will be operational later this year. BroadbandBI is just one of several community broadband networks Sertex is helping to bring to fruition. The company is also working with Plainville, CT, and constructing last-mile fiber networks in 17 hill towns in western Massachusetts.

Brightspeed Launches Operations and Begins Fiber Network Deployment
Brightspeed has begun operations as a new company following the completion of the previously announced acquisition of incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) assets and associated operations across 20 states from Lumen Technologies by Apollo-managed funds. Brightspeed is now the nation's fifth largest ILEC, with a service territory encompassing more than 6.5 million locations in mainly rural and suburban communities across the Midwest, Southeast, and parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Through its local fiber and copper networks, Brightspeed provides internet and voice offerings to residential and small business customers. Brightspeed offers high-speed connectivity, voice, networking, and managed services for enterprise and wholesale customers to support more complex working environments. The company has also officially commenced the buildout of its state-of-the-art fiber optics network. Brightspeed plans to complete over 1 million new fiber passings across 17 states during the initial construction phase through the end of 2023. Brightspeed's planned investment of at least $2 billion in its fiber network transformation will bring faster and more reliable internet service to more than 3 million homes and businesses over the next five years, primarily targeting locations with fiber and advanced technology not historically deployed.

Middle Mile News

Governor Ivey Awards $82.5 Million for Alabama Middle-Mile Network 
Governor Kay Ivey awarded an $82.45 million grant to help make statewide broadband service availability a more attainable goal throughout Alabama. Governor Kay Ivey said it would be used by Fiber Utility Network, a corporation formed by eight rural electric cooperatives to fund a “middle-mile” broadband network that will have a statewide impact. The eight co-ops include Central Alabama, Coosa Valley, Covington, Cullman, Joe Wheeler, North Alabama, PowerSouth and Tombigbee. The Fiber Utility Network will create a middle-mile network connecting almost 3,000 miles of existing and new fiber infrastructure within three years. When complete, the web will provide improved access to unserved areas for the last-mile projects that provide actual broadband availability to homes, businesses and schools. Once connected, residents will have the ability to become a customer of the last-mile broadband providers.

NTIA: Over 235 Applied for the “Internet for All” Middle Mile Grant Program
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced preliminary data that shows over 235 applications were submitted, totaling more than $5.5 billion in funding requests for the Enabling Middle Mile Infrastructure Grant Program, part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to investing in affordable Internet. The Middle Mile grant program provides $1 billion in funding to projects that connect high-speed Internet networks and reduce the cost of bringing Internet service to communities that lack it. 



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