US awards close to $1 billion in middle mile fibre funding


The US government has awarded funding grants of more than $930 million for the provision of middle mile infrastructure to boost regional connectivity, but demand was much higher than that.

The ‘Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program’ received more then 260 applications in the second half of last year comprising $7.47 billion in funding requests. That’s well over seven times the amount available under the $1 billion programme.

As it was, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the Department of Commerce, allocated funding for 35 projects submitted by 33 companies, including telecom firms, utilities, states, tribal governments and non-profit entities. (See below for full list.)

The only company to prove successful with more than one project was wholesale and business telecoms services provider Zayo, which had three accepted – one in Oregon and adjacent states and two in Texas – for a total of $92.9 million in federal funding. In total the projects will cost almost $160 million, which means the telco is putting in the best part of $67 million itself.

That’s the case for all the successful applicants. The government’s £930 million will be match funded to the tune of $848.5 million from non-governmental sources.

Zayo may have captured the biggest slice of NTIA funding, but the biggest single project, from a financial perspective, is one submitted by QSH Parent HoldCo, which has a total cost of $150.8 million and will receive a government grant of $88.8 million. The project, dubbed Nome to Homer Express Route, involves the rollout of middle mile fibre in Alaska.

All the projects – the average funding allocation being $26.6 million – have fibre as their main technology component, the NTIA was keen to point out. In all the projects will deploy over 12,000 miles of new fibre that will pass within 1,000 feet of of 6,961 community anchor institutions, it said. The projects will cover 350 counties across 35 states and Puerto Rico.

“Middle Mile infrastructure brings capacity to our local networks and lowers the cost for deploying future local networks,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communication and Information Alan Davidson. “These grants will help build the foundation of networks that will in turn connect every home in the country to affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service.”

Coming hot on the heels of the award of $714 million in grants and loans for the provision of fibre-based high-speed Internet in rural communities, the funding award further highlights the government’s determination to push on with full fibre rollout.

There will be a little more middle mile funding to come; the NTIA said it will allocate the remainder of the $1 billion pot “on a rolling basis.” But with so many applicants failing to secure grants for their middle mile projects, a lot of potentially underserved communities will have to hope that the impetus is there for private cash to make up the shortfall.

Funding Recipients (sorted alphabetically by primary state):

Troy Cablevision, Inc.

QSH Parent Holdco LLC

Pima County

California Department of Technology

BIF IV Intrepid Opco LLC


DoveTel Communications, LLC. dba SyncGlobal Telecom

Hawaiian Telcom, Inc.

Syringa Networks LLC

Commonwealth Edison Company

Indiana Michigan Power Company Inc.

MidAmerican Energy Company

Kansas Department of Commerce

State of Maine

Baltimore Gas & Electric

Peninsula Fiber Network, LLC

Missouri Network Alliance, LLC

Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative, Inc.

Omaha Tribe of Nebraska

State of Nevada

County of Cumberland

ENMR Telephone Cooperative

Development Authority of the North Country



Horizon Telcom Inc.

Missouri Network Alliance, LLC

Zayo, LLC

Liberty Communications of Puerto Rico LLC

Concho Valley Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Zayo, LLC

Zayo, LLC

Whidbey Telephone Company

Appalachian Power Company

Dairyland Power Cooperative


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