Brightspeed’s origin story isn’t typical for the telecommunications industry, at least not for a company of its size. It all started with an investment premise that Apollo Global Management wanted to test. That premise: “If we invested in an under-invested wireline company, could we turn it into a growth company?” Apollo negotiated a deal to buy CenturyLink’s local service business in 20 states, which appeared to be an excellent place to test the premise. Only 2 to 3 percent of the footprint that Apollo bought from CenturyLink had been upgraded to fiber when the ownership was transferred.
Charter celebrated the $1.3 billion that the company is investing in rural areas of Texas. Charter will invest $700 million of the money to cover the full cost of network upgrades. The remaining $420 million will cover some of the cost of fiber deployment. The remainder of the cost of fiber deployment will come partially from money Charter won in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund program in 2020, and partially from public-private partnerships with counties and cities.
Kansas awarded a $5 million grant to nonprofit Connected Nation to construct a carrier-neutral internet exchange point (IXP) adjacent to Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus. Construction will be done through Connected Nation IXP, a joint venture between Connected Nation and Newby Ventures. The Wichita IXP will be the first carrier-neutral IXP in Kansas. One network that will connect to the Wichita IXP is the middle-mile network planned for the state that was funded, in part, through a June 2023, $42.5 million grant awarded to the Kansas Departments of Commerce and Transportation.
Add California and Wisconsin to the growing list of states whose broadband funding programs have received applications seeking considerably more funding than the program has available. California’s Federal Funding Account received 484 applications requesting $4.6 billion, which is more than double the $2 billion budgeted for the program. Awards are used to fund last mile infrastructure projects.
RiverStreet Networks, a sister company of rural provider Wilkes Communications, has received a $191.1 million loan from CoBank that will go, in part, to refinance legacy US Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service financing and, in part, to deploy fiber broadband in rural areas of North Carolina and Virginia.
President Biden signed an extension to the Farm Bill as part of a new appropriations package aimed at averting a government shutdown. Executives from NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association and WTA—Advocates for Rural Broadband Executives from NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association and WTA—Advocates for Rural Broadband explained that the bill authorizes US Department of Agriculture to continue to operate broadband programs included in the 2018 Farm Bill through September 2024.
Three local providers were the big winners in the latest round of Minnesota’s Line Extension Connection broadband funding program. Two larger companies—Mediacom and Midco—also won funding in this round of the program, which awarded a total of almost $4.4 million. Mediacom won $190,501 to extend service to 37 locations and Midco won $166,800 to extend service to 21 locations.
One of Consolidated Communications’ institutional investors is encouraging other shareholders not to vote in favor of the proposed Consolidated sale to Searchlight Capital Partners and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation. The investor, Wildcat Capital Management, owns about 3 million shares of Consolidated stock, or between 2 and 3 percent of the company. That makes Wildcat the fifth largest independent stockholder, according to Wildcat.
The state of South Dakota has set a high bar for applicants seeking rural broadband funding in the ConnectSD Broadband Development Program. For example, the state sees fiber broadband as the “gold standard” in broadband technology.
The state of Idaho has awarded nearly $119 million in funding to Ziply, Comcast and 14 others. Ziply won two awards totaling over $14.3 million. Comcast won a single award for over $9.8 million. Other awardees included competitive and incumbent local providers. In addition, some awards went to individual counties. Awardees will contribute matching funds equal to 30 percent of project costs on average. The funding will go toward last mile and middle mile projects. The funding for the program came through the federal Capital Projects Fund.