Windstream has struck its first partnership with an electric co-op to expand the footprint of its fiber broadband service into rural areas of Georgia.
Under the terms of the agreement, Windstream and Colquitt EMC, which serves seven counties, will share responsibility for expanding Windstream's Kinetic fiber optic broadband network over the next several years to reach some of Georgia’s most rural areas. Once the build-out is completed, Colquitt EMC's members will have access to Windstream’s Kinetic broadband service with internet speeds up to 1 Gig.
“As the Georgia Broadband Availability Map shows, more than 70% of unserved areas are in rural Georgia,” said Commissioner Christopher Nunn of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, in a statement. “This Windstream-Colquitt EMC partnership is significant, as it demonstrates the importance of working collaboratively to close the gap and improve connectivity for millions of Georgians.
"Through this investment and many others like it, providers and communities seek to deliver an essential business and quality-of-life need that is key to long-term vitality of rural areas all across our state.”
Windstream and Colquitt EMC, which has 45,000 members, will start their joint planning sessions for the broadband network expansion.
“This is a great day for Windstream, Colquitt EMC and Colquitt’s members,” said J Berkshire, president of Windstream operations in Georgia, in a statement “By combining resources, our two organizations will accelerate Kinetic broadband deployment to customers in many locations in Colquitt’s service territory. For Windstream, this is another important step in our continuing effort to expand broadband access in some of the most hard-to-reach areas of Georgia. We look forward to a long and productive relationship with the great folks at Colquitt EMC that will benefit all of our shared communities.”
Windstream is aggressively building out its fiber footprint with the addition of $2 billion in capital in order to offer its 1-Gig broadband service in additional rural areas. During last week's second quarter earnings report, Windstream added 22,000 Kinetic broadband subscribers in the second quarter, which was the company's highest quarter net subscriber additions in over a decade.
Windstream, which is slated to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy near the end of next month, plans to participate in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction in October. In January, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced its RDOF program for faster broadband speeds in order to help close the digital divide in rural areas. RDOF will push out up to $20.4 billion in funding over the next 10 years to build and connect gigabit broadband speeds in unserved rural areas.