Tag: "Greenwood"

Posted December 7, 2022 by Ann Treacy

Legislative changes and funding in Maine in the last year have made it easier for local communities to consider municipal broadband options. While incumbent providers have been pushing back, local communities are pulling themselves forward.

Setting the Stage

A champion of community-driven broadband, Andrew Butcher, president of the newly created Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA), is leading the state's $250 million effort to expand broadband access in Maine, as Butcher discussed the state's new strategy in our Community Broadband Bits podcast last January. That amount includes $20 million in state funds from the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan and $130 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan. The state will also be getting in excess of $100 million from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

There has been push back from national providers who have campaigned at the local level to encourage local governments and policy makers to stop community broadband in its tracks, as we have covered here and here. And yet, despite those efforts, a number of communities across the state have started to make strides toward building publicly-owned, locally-controlled networks.

Here is a snapshot of the activity:

Western Maine: Mahoosuc Region

The Mahoosuc Community Broadband Committee is a collaboration of Woodstock, Greenwood, Bethel, Newry, and Gilead, and Albany and Milton townships in picturesque Western Maine. Working with Casco Bay Advisors on a feasibility study, the committee recommended going with a fiber optic network, choosing FirstLight as their provider partner. Based on their final report shared last spring, the total projected cost of the project is almost $10...

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Posted August 10, 2021 by Sean Gonsalves

Two utility cooperatives in South Carolina – one electric, the other a telephone co-op – have teamed up and are now cooperating to bring fiber-to-the-home Internet service to members living in Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens and Spartanburg counties.

In September 2020, the Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative (BREC) announced the partnership with WCFIBER, a subsidiary of the West Carolina Telephone Cooperative (WCTEL). WCFIBER has a well-established reputation as a rural broadband provider – serving Abbeville, McCormick, and Greenwood counties, as well as parts of Columbia County, GA – while BREC has a long and proud history delivering electricity to residents and businesses who call this part rural/part suburban corner of South Carolina home.

It’s a partnership that has given birth to Upcountry Fiber, a new subsidiary owned by Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative. The plan is to build out the network incrementally with construction expected to take five years to complete. BREC is not only focused on serving its 25,000 members, when the network is fully built-out, all 64,890 households and businesses in Blue Ridge’s 1,800 square mile service area will have access to gigabit speed fiber connectivity.

BREC has approximately 9,100 members in Anderson County, 4,500 in Greenville County, 31 in Spartanburg County, with the rest split between Oconee and Pickens counties.

Using a combination of BREC and WCTEL capital and loans, the $150 million cost and labor required to build the network will be shared by both cooperatives. BREC is building the core network by deploying fiber along its...

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