Windstream unveiled plans to deploy fiber to more than 80,000 locations across the state of Georgia over the coming years after it was awarded $171 million to complete a number of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant projects.
The operator’s Kinetic division is set to partner with 18 different counties in the state to execute the builds. In addition to the funding it won, Windstream said it plans to pump $133 million of its own cash into the projects. Work is set to begin this year and be fully completed by the end of 2026.
A Windstream representative told Fierce it plans to use XGS-PON technology for the projects and a mix of aerial and underground infrastructure.
“Building reliable, ultrafast internet service in rural areas requires collaboration and public-private partnerships,” Windstream CEO Tony Thomas said in a statement. “These partnerships allow us to accelerate our deployment of fiber broadband throughout rural Georgia.”
Work will cover 18,218 locations in Lowndes County, as well as 8,256 in Union and 7,448 in Colquitt. Other counties undertaking projects include Baldwin, Berrien, Brooks, Chattooga, Cook, Early, Habersham, Lee, Lumpkin, Stewart, Terrell, Thomas, Twiggs, Walker and Walton.
Charter Communications also emerged a winner in Georgia’s ARPA funding round, with its Spectrum brand walking away with nearly $12.2 million to fund six different projects covering a total of 7,435 locations.
All told, Georgia allocated $408 million in ARPA funding for 49 broadband projects across the state. These will collectively provide coverage for 183,615 homes and businesses, including 132,050 of its 482,374 currently unserved locations.
The news comes as Windstream strives to reach a goal of delivering fiber-based gigabit service to a total of 2 million locations over the coming years. In 2021, it hit a total of 1.1 million locations and Kinetic president Jeff Small told Fierce it plans to add another 400,000 locations in 2022.
Windstream previously pointed to public-private partnerships as a way to speed fiber rollouts, with Small stating these could help it push past its 2 million-location goal.