The Great Broadband Build: Verizon Expands Massachusetts Fios Footprint; Ziply Fiber Acquires iFIBER

As the Christmas season officially gets underway, several new broadband builds were recently announced: Verizon expands its Massachusetts Fios footprint and Ziply Fiber enhances its reach by acquiring iFIBER. 

  • Verizon FiOS

Broadband build activity continues to ramp. In this week’s issue, we’re tracking several new builds, including Verizon expanding its Massachusetts Fios footprint and Ziply adds 100,000 fiber customer locations through its acquisition of iFIBER.

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.

You can send relevant news to sean@bbcmag.com. You can also tune in for new issues of the Great Broadband Build here.

Verizon Extends Massachusetts FTTH Footprint
As part of its continued investment in Massachusetts, Verizon is bringing high-speed fiber internet to customers across the state, including Worcester, Brockton, Lowell, Everett, Milton, Newburyport and Plainville. The latest Verizon Home Internet expansion is expected to make Verizon’s fiber network available to over 70,000 additional homes and businesses in the Bay State. In 2021, Verizon invested $750 million in its wireline and wireless networks in Massachusetts and currently employs more than 5,000 people. Despite the impact of the COVID pandemic, Verizon deployed over 1,000 miles of fiber in connection with this expansion. Verizon’s fiber network will deliver Fios broadband service with wired speeds of up to 940 / 880 Mbps and no data caps. Customers who subscribe to Fios will have access to a wide range of service plans that deliver at least 300 Mbps, starting at just $25 per month with auto pay and select 5G mobile plans. In addition, those who qualify for the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program in partnership with the Verizon Forward Program can get free Verizon Home Internet with no upfront fees, annual contracts, equipment charges, or data caps.

Ziply Fiber to acquire iFIBER Communications
Ziply Fiber has agreed to acquire iFIBER Communications, a provider of high-speed fiber internet services in partnership with local public utility districts (PUDs) in Western, Central and Eastern Washington. Based in Ephrata, Washington, iFIBER’s primary offerings are fiber internet and digital phone solutions for residential customers in partnership with Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Kitsap, Mason and Pend Oreille counties. Once the acquisition is complete, Ziply Fiber will deliver fiber internet service through an indefinite right of use with each partner PUD. Customers will benefit from expanded service hours, access to new products such as hosted voice, whole home Wi-Fi and improved network management capabilities. Current iFIBER customers will continue to enjoy the great internet and voice services provided by the iFIBER team. All iFIBER employees will continue supporting new and existing customers. Across the four northwest states, Ziply Fiber has announced new fiber construction projects in more than 90 cities and towns across the Northwest since it began its aggressive fiber expansion efforts in the summer of 2020. The company has been actively building fiber across the Northwest since June 2020. It has plans to develop and deploy new fiber-optic cables, local hubs, new offices, and new hardware to run the network as part of hundreds of projects across its 250,000-square-mile footprint.

Fidium Brings Fiber Broadband Internet to Conway, N.H. Area
Fidium Fiber’s multi-gig-speed internet is now available in Conway, with home internet service available to order for more than 4,800 eligible residents. An additional 4,200 households in Conway can pre-order Fidium and be first in line when service is ready in the North Conway area, bringing gigabit broadband to more than 9,000 homes by year’s end. Fidium Fiber delivers multi-gig, fiber internet without contracts, data caps, or hassles. All Fidium plans offer symmetrical speeds from 50 Mbps to 2 Gigs, with no contract and no data caps, and come with Wi-Fi 6-based home network capabilities. Customers can also get phone service through VoIP plans and services.

FirstLight Expands Maine Residential Broadband Reach
FirstLight, a provider of digital infrastructure services to enterprise and carrier customers throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, announced today that it is building out its fiber-based broadband network in parts of Maine. FirstLight’s fiber network now passes more than 4,880 homes in its Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) regions, consisting of several Central and Western Maine towns. Expanding FirstLight’s FTTH network in Maine directly responds to increased demand for reliable residential Internet access to support important initiatives like telehealth, remote learning, and remote work. According to the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Information, Maine has about 160,000 jobs that were recently identified as remote.

FirstLight’s ILEC consists of the following towns: Albany Township, Andover, Bethel, Bryant Pond, Buckfield, Canton, Hartford, Hebron, Locke Mills, Mason Township, parts of Minot, Newry, North Norway, North Turner, Roxbury Pond, Sumner, Turner, Upton, West Bethel, West Paris, and Woodstock. The provider has added approximately 300 route miles of new fiber throughout the State since 2019, including most recently in the Town of Minot, with a FTTH network in the northwest portion of the town serving 279 homes. FirstLight has completed the "make ready" stage of the project and is currently in the construction phase, with installations underway. FirstLight is also working with the communities of Albany Township, Bethel, Gilead, Greenwood, Newry, and Woodstock on a potential fiber build in that area. FirstLight currently has 3,600 fiber route miles in Maine, which serves enterprise, carrier and residential customers, and anticipates installing an additional 121 route miles of fiber by year-end. 

Optimum to Extend Fiber Services to Three Texas Towns
Optimum is extending its services to Brownfield, Hereford, and Seminole, Texas, with the construction of its fiber Internet Network already underway in the three areas. The company expects to reach 15,900 homes and businesses across the three cities, including 4,000 passings in Brownfield, 5,400 passings in Seminole and 6,500 passings in Hereford, with initial services becoming available in early 2023 and the builds to be complete later that year. In addition to the internet, residents will have access to Optimum TV, mobile, and home phone service. Construction has been underway for several weeks and will expand across the cities in phases. Residents will see more trucks and technicians in their areas throughout the fiber build process as fiber is deployed.

Lumen Expands U.S. Intercity Fiber Reach for Business Customers
Lumen is now investing another 6 million fiber miles to meet its business customers’ continuing demand for fiber, which is expected to be installed by 2026. Once complete, Lumen's U.S. intercity investment will reach nearly 12 million fiber miles, creating diverse routes to more than 50 major cities across the country. To set this network apart from others, Lumen continues upgrading its infrastructure using a multi-conduit system, allowing for the quick deployment of the latest fiber technology. Lumen continues using Corning's SMF-28® ULL fiber and SMF-28® Ultra fiber to upgrade its intercity infrastructure and add capacity to its network. Lumen has upgraded over 24,000 route miles across its U.S. intercity network. This enhances network performance levels and supports the deployment of its Next-Generation Optical platform. This platform was specifically designed to handle increasing network traffic. This fiber technology can now support customer Wavelength services up to 400G and increase customer speeds in the future. This helps meet businesses’ high bandwidth needs and allows their data to be acquired and analyzed in real-time. Businesses will benefit through this fiber network that offers a faster connection to the big cloud service providers. They can also design and build their network services to support their digital needs using a Topology Viewer app.

New Hope Telephone Cooperative (NHTC) Employs Adtran for Multi-Gigabit Network Build
New Hope Telephone Cooperative (NHTC) is leveraging Adtran’s fiber solution to launch multi-gigabit fiber broadband services. NHTC is based in New Hope, Alabama, where the population is growing, and new broadband operators often enter the market. Due to this growth, NHTC needed to scale its fiber broadband solution to compete with large Tier 1 carriers. Adtran helped NHTC get the equipment it needed in a very stringent timeline and immediately offered multi-gigabit services to any customer anywhere. Adtran’s FTTH solution includes the Adtran Mosaic One cloud software and Adtran Connected Home solutions, connected via the Adtran 10G fiber access platform with Combo PON technology. The flexible Combo PON technology enables NHTC to support legacy GPON customers while offering multi-gigabit XGS-PON services to existing and new subscribers.

Accelecom Brings Broadband Connectivity to Rural Kentucky Businesses, Gov Agencies
Accelecom and Fujitsu are collaborating to connect businesses throughout Kentucky with a high-speed fiber broadband network. The service provider leverages dark fiber from the KentuckyWired middle mile network, which connects all 120 counties and provides commercial access to 100G symmetrical data services. Kentucky is the first U.S. state to build an open-access fiber optic network reaching every county. The Commonwealth, which in 2017 ranked 47th in the U.S. for broadband speeds and capacity, now ranks third in the nation for internet speeds. As the network systems integrator for the project, Fujitsu was responsible for network design, deployment, testing and turn-up of the network, including specifying, sourcing and integrating multi-vendor optical equipment and software. The next-generation broadband network incorporates Fujitsu 1FINITY™ Lambda blades and 1FINITY T300 transport blades to enable the ultimate in flexible ROADM functionality, reliability and spectral efficiency. Network management is simplified with the Virtuora® Network Control software-defined network (SDN) solution. Additionally, Fujitsu provided migration and deployment services to install 21 new huts to house the optical equipment.

Clearwave Fiber Launches Fiber Services in Lansing, Salina, Kansas
Clearwave Fiber is continuing its build-out plan, announcing that it will bring its fiber internet service to Lansing and Salina, Kansas. In Lansing the fiber Internet network is nearly complete in Lansing, Kansas enabling over 3,100 locations for fiber services. This latest launch for the Savannah-based operation marks a continuation of almost 6,000 route miles of Fiber in the Southeast and Midwest. The company aims to bring fiber-based broadband to more than 500,000 homes and businesses across the United States by the end of 2026. Clearwave Fiber partnered with the City of Lansing to deliver ultra-fast broadband service to residents using Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. 

Fiber networks are being installed in Lansing and Spring Hill, with plans to serve more locations in Desoto and Salina, Kansas, by early 2023. This latest expansion marks the continuation of the company’s Kansas buildout, expected to deliver fiber internet service to approximately 9,000 Salina, Lansing, Spring Hill, and Desoto households by early 2023 and advancing its goal to bring the best and fastest Internet technology available to more than 500,000 homes and businesses across the United States by 2026. Clearwave Fiber is slated to begin construction in Salina after the first of the year. Clearwave Fiber plans to extend its fiber network to other areas in the region into 2023 and beyond.

Comcast to Connect Unserved West Virginia Homes and Businesses
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice recently officially signed the state’s Line Extension Advancement and Development (LEAD) program grants for Comcast to begin construction activities to connect more than 2,100 unserved homes and businesses across the state. Comcast next month will start to execute the buildout plan for two projects totaling more than $10 million, enabled in part by a $7.5 million state grant to provide more residents in Brooke, Cabell, Hancock, Morgan, Ohio, and Putnam counties access to Comcast’s fiber network. This expansion will add almost 200 additional route miles of fiber to connect unserved residents to the full suite of Xfinity residential and Comcast Business services, including broadband Internet speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps for residences and up to 100 Gbps for businesses.

Funding for the WVBIP’s LEAD program is provided through the West Virginia Legislature’s allocation of $100 million to create the West Virginia Broadband Development Fund. The Fund includes $90 million in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and $10 million in state general revenue funds. Funds are also derived through the ARPA Capital Projects Fund, which includes $136 million for broadband development in West Virginia. The West Virginia Department of Economic Development’s Office of Broadband will administer program funds. Construction activities are beginning, and the entire project is expected to be completed by the end of 2023. Comcast is also partnered with the state for the Major Broadband Project Strategies (MBPS) program to connect even more homes and businesses in Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, and Ohio Counties in 2023.

Treasury Awards $288M to Fund Broadband Projects in Colorado and New Mexico
The U.S. Department of the Treasury approved broadband projects in Colorado and New Mexico under the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund.

Colorado has been approved to receive $170.8 million for broadband infrastructure, which the state estimates will connect 18,000 households and businesses – representing approximately 15 percent of locations still lacking high-speed internet access. Colorado’s award will fund the Advance Colorado Broadband grant program, a competitive grant program designed to deploy broadband internet service to households, businesses, community anchor institutions, and agricultural operations that currently lack access to reliable broadband that can meet or exceed 25/3 Mbps. Funding from CPF will help Colorado continue to access areas of the state with the lowest levels of internet service. The Advance Colorado Broadband grant program is designed to provide internet speeds of 100/100 Mbps symmetrical to households and businesses upon project completion. Each internet service provider funded by the program will participate in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) – a $30 per month subsidy for qualifying households. The plan submitted to Treasury and being approved today represents 100 percent of the state’s total allocation under the CPF program.

New Mexico is approved to receive $117 million for broadband infrastructure, which the state estimates will connect 40,611 households and businesses – representing 21 percent of locations still lacking high-speed internet access. New Mexico’s award will fund the Connect New Mexico Broadband grant program. This competitive grant program is designed to build broadband infrastructure in areas of the state without access to reliable wireline service. The Connect New Mexico Broadband program is intended to provide internet service with symmetrical 100 Mbps speeds to households and businesses upon completion. The plan submitted to Treasury and being approved today represents 88 percent of the state’s total allocation under the CPF program. New Mexico submitted plans for the remainder of its CPF funds and these applications are currently under review by Treasury.

Each internet service provider in Colorado and New Mexico funded by the program will participate in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) – a $30 per month subsidy for qualifying households. These states will use their funding to connect nearly 60,000 homes and businesses to high-speed internet. A key priority of the Capital Projects Fund program is to make financing available for reliable, affordable broadband infrastructure. To date, 24 states have been approved to invest over $3.2 billion of CPF funding in affordable, high-speed internet, which those states estimate will reach more than 765,000 locations.

 

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