NORTHWEST TENNESSEE (February 3) – Charter Communications recently announced the launch of a multiyear, multibillion-dollar broadband buildout initiative to deliver gigabit high-speed broadband access to more than 1 million unserved customer locations, as estimated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and awarded to Charter in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction. Charter expects to invest approximately $5 billion to support its buildout initiative – offset by $1.2 billion in support won from the RDOF auction – expanding Charter’s network to lower-density, mostly rural communities that do not have access to broadband service of at least 25/3 Mbps. In Tennessee, that includes $92 Million in RDOF funds to expand service to over 79,000 locations across Tennessee.
The following the county breakdown of households and investments announced for Northwest Tennessee:
Weakley – 3,721 households: $2.86 million;
Carroll – 3,045 households: $5.76 million;
Obion – 1,063 households: $2.7 million;
Benton – 4,118 households: $5.19 million;
Henry – 1,120 households: $654,000 and
Gibson – 506 households: $284,000.
The initiative includes a $17.49 million investment to expand broadband to 13,573 households in District 24 which Sen. John Stevens represents in the Tennessee Senate.
“I am delighted that so many homes in our rural communities will be connected through this initiative,” said Sen. Stevens. “Broadband is becoming increasingly important to the way students are educated, medical services are provided, government services are delivered, and business is conducted. In addition, broadband is essential as we work to create high quality jobs for our citizens.”
“Government partnering with the private sector to fill the gaps is paramount to ensuring broadband services are deployed effectively,” he added. “I applaud Charter’s efforts and look forward to continue seeing many more of our homes connected in the near future.”
According to the news release, the network Charter will build in these rural areas will offer 1 Gbps high–speed broadband access to all newly-served customer locations with starting speeds of 200 Mbps, enabling consumers to engage in remote learning, work, telemedicine and other applications that require high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity.
Preparation for the RDOF Phase I broadband buildout has already begun, according to Charter representatives, and will include Charter expanding its existing construction organization in order to focus on deployment of this new fiber optic network. Charter expects to hire more than 2,000 employees and contractors to support the RDOF and future rural buildout initiatives.
The execution of the announced initiative is dependent on a variety of external factors, including the utility pole permitting and “make-ready” processes. With fewer homes and businesses in these areas, broadband providers need to access multiple poles for every new home served, as opposed to multiple homes per pole in higher-density settings. As a result, pole applications, pole replacement rules and their affiliated issue resolution processes are all factors that can have a significant impact on the length of time it takes to build into these rural areas, the news release further states.
“The more cooperation we have with the pole owners and utility companies, the faster we can connect these communities with high-speed internet services. We look forward to working with local municipalities, electric cooperatives, and investor-owned utilities to ensure that permits are obtained in a timely, fair and cost-effective fashion,” Tom Rutledge, Chairman and CEO of Charter Communications, noted.