The broadband subsidiary of Holston Electric Cooperative based out of Rogersville, Tennessee, celebrated passing 7,500 passings at the start of the new year (it serves 9,000 total electric members), and is looking to finish its buildout at the end of June 2021. This would put it two years ahead of schedule. The project has been helped along the way by $7.3 million in grants.
LUS Fiber, the municipal network for Lafayette, Lousiana, just won a $3 million federal grant to extend a 47-mile backbone along Highway 90, allowing them to connect 650 businesses and as many as 1,400 new households.
Franklin, Kentucky’s (pop. 8,400) electric utility is gearing up for an expansion of its partnership with Warren Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation (WRECC) with the help of $2.3 million from the recent FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). The new partnership will allow Franklin EPB to add new service to roughly 250 locations adjacent to a current project in the area.
The expansion project will add subscribers in the northeast region of Simpson County and nearby parts of the city of Franklin in the south-central part of the state, where the two entities are operating a two-area fiber pilot.
It represents the growth of a collaboration between Franklin EPB and the electric cooperative. In 2019, the two partnered up to deploy service with Franklin EPB leasing dark fiber from the cooperative and acting as service provider to “350 of its customers in northeast Simpson County and in an area on the southeast side of Franklin.” The project brought symmetrical 100 Megabit per second (Mbps) and 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) options for $60 and $80/month to those locations and has brought service to a lot of happy members.
“Providing high-speed Internet [access] in rural areas has been and continues to be an important issue nationwide. Fortunately, we have been able to develop a successful model with Franklin EPB. We’re delighted to be able to expand our service in Simpson County immediately thanks to the RDOF funding,” said Dewayne McDonald, President and CEO of Warren RECC, at the announcement. He continued to emphasize that "part of our mission is to improve the quality of life for our members. This expansion represents a giant leap in progress for them, and we’re excited about the momentum. For the areas we didn’t win, we hope the companies that did win them will live up to their commitment to serve our...Read more
Holland, Michigan's Board of Public Works currently operates a small pilot fiber network for about 100 mostly-business users that began in 2017. In the wake of designating broadband a top policy priority for 2021, the city council is considering three funding models which would expand the networks citywide, bringing fiber to every home and business and then offering it up on an open basis for private ISPs to deliver service. The city is likewise considering operating on the infrastructure alongside.
The streaks of paint and tiny white flags popping up across Block Island are not signs of surrender. They are signs of progress. The popular summer tourist destination, nine miles off the coast of Rhode Island, is on the verge of building a Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network, bringing gig-speed Internet connectivity to the more than 1,000 residents who call the community home.
The markers on residents’ property are plot points along the construction route as network planners prepare to start building the last-mile portion at the end of March.
On Feb. 4, BroadbandBI launched its website, announcing that the construction materials had finally arrived on the Island and signaling the start of construction would soon be underway.
Sertex, the company partnering with the town to build the network, is anticipating deploying more than 60 miles of fiber to deliver high-speed Internet service directly to homes and businesses in New Shoreham, the only town on Block Island.
Pop the Champagne
Residents there unanimously voted in July 2020 to pay for the construction of the island-wide network with $8 million in bonds. Approval for the project was so overwhelming that when the vote took place the Block Island School gymnasium erupted with cheers and applause.
Currently, there are still only three options for Internet service on the Island: Verizon DSL, satellite, and mobile services with the fastest speed advertised at 35 Megabits per second (Mbps). And for a period of time, it seemed as if residents were doomed to those tortoise-like speeds forever.
In 2014, the Block Island Times captured experiences from its readers after an especially frustrating summer of spotty service. One reader, Jessica Fischburg wrote, “We have Verizon and live down in Franklin Swamp. No cell service. Our Internet is painfully slow unless you wake up super early. We have no choice but to disconnect when we come out to the island!”
The Answer Was Blowing in the Wind
But in 2016, a glimmer of hope came in the form of the ...Read more
Callabyte Technology, the Fiber-to-the-Home subsidiary of Callaway Electric Cooperative, recently announced a new expansion into the town of Wardsville (pop. 1,800), after strong interest by residents, businesses, and local officials. It marks just the latest in a succession to area communities exhibiting a strong demand for fast, affordable, reliable Internet access.
We covered Callabyte’s formation after its launch in 2015, when Callaway partnered with nearby King’s Telephone Cooperative to bring fiber service to members. The cooperative, which serves more than 13,000 electric meters, ran a successful pilot in one neighborhood in its electric footprint in 2015 and quickly expanded thereafter. 2016 saw growth to five surrounding areas, and was paired with an announcement that it would be expanding to the totality of the cooperative’s membership going forward. In July 2017, Callabyte celebrated its two-year anniversary as well as signing up its 1,100th subscriber. In 2018 the network doubled its projected size by adding a third build region, and announced a fourth large expansion to fill in the region coverage to be completed between 2019 and 2020.
Driven by Demand
Growth has been driven by strong demand. By September 2017, the network had 1,500 subscribers across 300 miles of main-line fiber. Just three short years later it served 4,700 homes and businesses, with more than 9,000 interested and registered for service.
Callabyte's efforts over the years have been boosted by federal funds designed to speed deployment and ease the cost of construction. In 2019 the network received just over $2.1 million from the FCC's Connect American Fund II (CAF II) auction to build service to about 1,500 locations new locations.
Recent expansion has also been driven in part by two state broadband...Read more
There’s more to Nevada than sparkling casinos and vast expanses of arid desert. A six-hour drive north of Las Vegas – about an hour drive east of Reno on I-80 – is Churchill County.
Thanks to an irrigation system fed by the Walker, Truckee, and Carson Rivers, Fallon – the county seat – has long been known as the “Oasis of Nevada,” surrounded by abundant agricultural land with over 600 farms spread across Churchill County’s 5,000 square miles.
Two weeks before Christmas of 2020, county officials were celebrating a different kind of growth when CC Communications broke ground on a new headquarters that will consolidate the 132-year-old telecommunications company’s administrative, network, and customer service operations under one roof.
County Commission Chairman Pete Olsen praised CC Communications for putting the county on the proverbial map because of the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network the county-owned company launched in 2015.
“This is a step on the path towards continuing to build out an amazing home-grown company inside Churchill County,” Olsen said. “It’s an incredible story. We’re so lucky to have this business here in our community, and it’s county owned.”
It was in 2008 that CC Communications first began construction of its $40 million FTTH network, lighting up its first gigabit customer in 2015. Today, Olsen reported, more than 85% of the homes and businesses in Churchill County now have access to the network and get broadband, VoIP and TV services. The residential price for a 100/10 Megabits per second (Mbps) connection is $50 a month; 150/50 Mbps for $70 a month; 250/50 Mbps for $100 month; and a 1Gbps/100Mbps connection for $300 a month.
The current take rate is about 70%, CC Communications CEO Mark Feest told us last week. Feest said the take rate would be higher but there is a segment of the population who simply cannot afford the service. He said he is hopeful that the new Biden Administration will help improve...Read more
In Chanute, the “Hub of Southeast Kansas” named in honor of railroad engineer and aviation pioneer Octave Chanute, the track this small city of approximately 9,100 is on to build its Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network is a long one.
It began back in 1984 when the city’s utility department installed four miles of fiber optic cable to monitor and control its electric grid. The project was almost derailed in 2015 when three new Chanute City Commissioners voted to halt a $16.4 million bond issuance moments after they were sworn into office. City officials also had to contend with AT&T, which offered DSL service in the region. Aiming to stave off competition, the telecom giant petitioned the Kansas Corporation Commission to enforce a 1947 state law that requires permission from the state to issue bonds for utility projects.
Today, however, thanks to $1.6 million from the state – part of a $50 million statewide Connectivity Emergency Response Grant established in October 2020 by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly in response to the COVID 19 crisis – Chanute is chugging toward a citywide build-out neighborhood-by-neighborhood.
Construction to further expand the network began at the Google mural at the intersection of Lincoln and Main, which commemorates the city’s distinction of being the center of the earth on Google Maps for Apple computers thanks to the fact that the software developer, Dan Webb, was from Chanute.
The current take-rate for the area from Main Street to 7th and Santa Fe to as far over as Katy Ave is 30%, IT Director Chris Stogsdill told us this week. “We are at about 33% for our take rate in the area from 3rd Street to 14th Street and right at about 53% in the Hillside/Sunset Subdivisions,” he added, noting that residential customers are getting 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) speed with no data caps for $75 a month.
“We have three active FTTH areas with...Read more
Erwin Utilities, with whom we last spoke on Episode 431 of the Community Broabdnad Bits podcast, has secured approval from Unicoi County Commission, Town of Erwin, and Town of Unicoi in a proposed project to expand its fiber network outside of its current electric footprint. The next step is to get state aproval, which it hopes to do in the next General Assembly sesson, which began on January 12th. The proposed area includes three pockets the utility says would otherwise be left behind in Unicoi County's plan to bring high-speed broadband to all.
2020 was a great year for Utah's UTOPIA network, with expansion in existing cities, more coming online, and people clamoring for service. The end of the year saw them pass a milestone, with 35,000 users on the network. Driven in part by the pandemic, but also the lure of fast, affordable Internet access, the network saw an increase in signups of 50%.
Listen to Episode 445 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast to hear Christopher sit down with UTOPIA for more details.