The Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin awarded $124,967,392 in funding for 71 projects in the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant Program. The projects, which are aimed at areas that are unserved or underserved, will bring broadband to more than 82,912 residences and 4,566 businesses in 45 counties. The projects will be supplemented by $185,780,074 in matching funds from recipients. In November 2021, Gov Tony Evers (D-WS) and PSC Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq announced $100 million in broadband expansion grant funding.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has begun accepting applications to the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program and has issued 88 pages of guidance for network operators requesting funding. The program, which was created in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), has a budget of $1 billion. The applications portal is ready to accept applications just over a month after NTIA issued a notice of funding opportunity detailing rules for the program.
Dish said that it has reached an agreement with T-Mobile to use the T-Mobile Ultra Capacity 5G network to provide connectivity to Dish mobile customers and to customers of Dish’s retail wireless brands, including Boost Mobile. The agreement requires Department of Justice (DOJ) approval, and the DOJ must make a decision no later than August 14, 2022.
Indiana is positioned to be well connected with the second announcement of a statewide fiber network consortium. The newest entrant, Accord Telecommunications Collaborative, LLC, is owned by 21 electric and telephone cooperative service providers and covers 75% of the state’s land mass. Accord’s owners, which are non-profit organizations, collectively service more than 300,000 homes and businesses in Indiana. They own 20,000 miles of fiber and about 40,000 miles of electric lines. Announcements about partnerships with other providers are expected to be made in the coming weeks.
The broadband industry is at a unique crossroads. Between the many federal and state broadband funding opportunities that are now in play, well over $100 billion will be made available over the next five years. This funding cycle can help fuel the dramatic expansion of fiber broadband across the entire country, helping bring the promise of broadband to the unserved and underserved.
The highly competitive nature of the US mobile wireless business continues as Verizon announced that it is deploying 5G in the CBRS spectrum band and T-Mobile said it achieved speeds above 3 Gbps on a production network using 5G carrier aggregation. Verizon said it worked with Ericsson to complete a 5G data session using CBRS General Authorized Access (GAA) spectrum, which is mid-band spectrum that is essentially available on an unlicensed basis.
David Finn of Google Fiber outlined the company’s embrace of the open access model for broadband. Finn, a director of corporate development at Google Fiber, highlighted the company’s recent open access partnership in West Des Moines (IA) and a previous example with the public utility in Huntsville (AL) as examples of how they are using the model to expand broadband access. Google Fiber is now finalizing a similar partnership in Vermont that could potentially reach over 100 thousand rural residents.
Brightspeed will pass 130,000 addresses in the Commonwealth of Virginia during the next several years, with the first 60,000 of those passings to be completed by the end of 2023. The first phase of the Virginia rollout will include portions of Charlottesville and parts of Albemarle, Campbell, Henry, Page, Rockbridge and Smyth counties.
Starry emerged a few years as a fixed wireless broadband provider targeting large multi-dwelling units (MDUs) and has had considerable success in that market, averaging 25% take rates within the first year, when the company aims to reach payback on its investment. The company developed its own technology, which is rather different from that of other fixed wireless providers in that it can use coaxial distribution infrastructure within a building to distribute service.