Rural, municipal broadband providers see gains


Fibertech, a broadband network provider for mid-sized cities will be expanding its network in Delaware year in response to increases in subscription rates. Frontier Communications, another broadband provider to many rural areas of the US also announced gains in earnings this year due to bringing on additional subscribers. Taken together, these companies reflect continued demand for broadband access outside of urban centers.

CivSource has reported on significant demand for broadband access outside of major city centers even while the largest telecom providers continue to insist the business case is lacking.

Fibertech currently operates a 160-mile network in Wilmington, DE. To fulfill major new sales agreements, Fibertech will extend its current infrastructure by more than 80 miles from Wilmington, through Dover and into Georgetown, DE. This expansion comes on the heels of the company’s recent network construction launch in new markets of Akron, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo.

Fibertech’s service offering will encompass both dark fiber and optical broadband options to area businesses that have predominately used traditional carrier lines in the past. The company’s optical solutions portfolio of services includes private line connections ranging in speeds from T1 to OC-192; point-to-point and multi-point Ethernet service in speeds ranging from 10 Mbps to 100 Gbps; dedicated Internet access; DWDM; and collocation for fast communication between multiple locations.

Additionally, other telecommunications carriers will be able to lease strands of fiber on the new network to expand their local presence and extend broadband solutions to their business customers as well.

“The expansion of our Delaware network ensures businesses have cost-effective alternatives for their critical bandwidth applications,” said John K. Purcell, Fibertech Chairman and CEO. “We believe that the presence of our network and services will also help enhance economic development initiatives in its capital city and throughout the state of Delaware.”

Purcell’s comments reflect something not often heard in the case for capital expenditure from other providers. Another company, Frontier Communications has also echoed these ideas and is seeing the benefits. Frontier owes a portion of its rural portfolio to an acquisition of those markets from Verizon which left many of them unbuilt. Since then, the company has taken funding from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build out networks in rural communities adding in its own capital as well.

The company posted an 80% increase in profits this quarter while these buildouts are ongoing and sales have yet to fully ramp up. Frontier did add over 28,000 new subscribers.

Frontier also announced it will be adding broadband services in West Virginia to its discount phone service Federal Communications Commission pilot program. Frontier has been working with officials in West Virgina to expand that state’s troubled broadband network and part of that effort is to support an FCC pilot for “Lifeline” services including low-cost phone and Internet for low-income citizens.

The pilot is part of the work done through the FCC’s Connect America Fund which was a change in how the FCC allocates its revenue to speed up broadband adoption nationwide by offering funds to private sector companies to foster new networks. AT&T and Verizon some of the largest carriers declined to participate in funding through the Connect America Fund.