The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded $50 million in what it said will be the last round of awards from the $1 billion Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program.
Entities in New Hampshire, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming will use the money for fiber projects in 27 counties and will also contribute $23 million in matching funds. The projects will deploy a total of more than 500 miles of new fiber that will pass within 1,000 feet of 164 community anchor institutions.
With this last batch of middle mile grants, the NTIA has awarded funding to a total of 36 entities across 40 states and territories. In June, the agency dished out $930 million in grants, with Zayo being the only big-name provider to score funding.
Eligible awardees for the middle mile program include states, telcos, Tribal governments, utilities and nonprofits.
The largest funding amount went to Blue Ridge Advisory Services Group, which received $20.35 million to build 155 miles of new fiber in Tennessee and bolster the network architecture of Scott County Telephone Cooperative.
Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation took home the second largest award of around $16.4 million. It expects to build eight open-access middle mile fiber segments in 13 localities across Virginia.
New Hampshire’s Grafton County got nearly $12 million to develop a 222-mile middle-mile backbone. Municipalities will be able to tap into that backbone to reach the last mile of their own networks, while the non-municipal/county locations will only be served through dark fiber access.
Finally, Visionary Communications scored $1.26 million to construct an 11.5-mile fiber backhaul in Wyoming. The deployment will enable Visionary to provide 100 downstream and 20 Mbps upstream fixed wireless service to unserved locations in Oriva Hills.
According to the NTIA, the middle mile program was massively oversubscribed, as it received over 260 applications requesting a total of $7.47 billion in funding.
The agency has proposed waivers for middle mile grant winners so they can sidestep the “Buy American” requirements attached to the money. Those requirements would force awardees to use products and materials that contain at least 55% domestic content.
The NTIA is proposing similar waivers for the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.