Representative Yvette Clarke (D-NY) hinted that she will introduce new legislation before the end of 2023 to address a significant funding gap for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP, which offers free or discounted high-speed internet to qualifying households, is expected to run out of money in April of 2024.
A new analysis from New Street Research revealed that the telecommunications industry collectively increased fiber locations by 1.8 million in the third quarter of 2023, with “most of the increase driven by AT&T.” A broadband trends report from analyst Jonathan Chaplin highlighted that over the past year, AT&T has passed 2.2 million new consumer locations with fiber, although he wrote that pace is “slightly below expectations based on management guidance.” AT&T added 1.1 million fiber subscribers during the past year.
GoNetspeed is on a fiber deployment spree. The fiber provider accelerated builds in the second half of 2023, with the expectation that by the end of the year it will pass more than 140,000 locations across Maine, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Alabama. In November 2023 alone, GoNetspeed announced new service availability in Portland and Rockland in Maine; Attalla, Alabama; Amherst, Massachusetts and Plymouth, Connecticut.
Bluepeak is expanding its fiber-to-the-home service to Texas. The operator will invest about $15 million into a new network in the city of Denison (TX) to deliver fiber to 10,000-15,000 homes and businesses, making it the first fiber provider in the city. The company is in the initial stages of development and aims to launch service in Denison in 2024. Bluepeak currently provides fiber-to-the-home services to 18 markers in Oklahoma, Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
Palisade Infrastructure has successfully concluded the acquisition of Mashell, the parent company of Rainier Connect. Ranier Connect, a fiber and hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) broadband provider in Washington State, will now operate under Palisade’s new Lightcurve brand. The rebranding represents the “beginning of significant investments in the fiber optic internet infrastructure.” The infrastructure investment company originally announced its plans to acquire Rainier Connect in December 2022. Lightcurve currently serves Tacoma, Eatonville, Centralia, Chehalis and Graham in Washington.
The California Department of Technology (CDT) will pay Lumen Technologies $400 million to build out 1,900 miles of network infrastructure as part of the state’s Middle Mile Broadband Initiative. The Lumen award represents two of 11 total leases, joint-build or purchase agreements from the CDT with several companies that will contribute to the initiative’s open access middle-mile network. Open access networks, which are deployed by one company and leased to multiple internet service providers (ISPs), are starting to gain traction in the U.S.
In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, Sen Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) asked the FCC to take action on a long-standing proceeding which could change the way broadband providers access utility poles. Capito said she continues to hear “problems and delays” associated with broadband providers getting access to utility poles.
As states and territories define high-cost thresholds for their Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) proposals, the industry finds itself divided on the best approach. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress established a preference for "priority broadband projects" that meet high performance standards, can scale with needs over time, and will enable the deployment of 5G. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has since determined that "end-to-end fiber optic facilities" are the platform most likely to satisfy those requirements.
Through a recent partnership announcement with Ciena, eCommunity Fiber is poised to extend its open-access fiber network in Georgia and beyond. Launched by parent company A2D, an open-access local exchange carrier, the privately-funded eCommunity Fiber network currently serves five cities within Clayton County in Georgia. eCommunity is now gearing up for its second Georgia deployment, with plans to cross other state lines in 2024. Open-access networks are deployed by one company and then leased to multiple internet service providers, which can then offer broadband service to end customers.
Rural internet service providers (ISPs) could find financial support through a new offering from The Avery Companies designed to help them meet the requirements for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program. The private investment company announced a new initiative to support BEAD applicants in rural and underserved areas by providing the funds needed to obtain a letter of credit (LOC).