TDS Telecommunications Corp. is nearing completion on four American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus-funded broadband Internet projects. Completed parts of those projects are already making service available to customers – including residents and businesses in parts of Wisconsin, Virginia, and Alabama. CenturyLink is also working on an additional expansion project in Standardsville, Virginia.
Construction on all four stimulus-funded TDS projects is expected to wrap-up this spring. The company has received funding for 44 projects from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) as part of the ARRA.
In Wisconsin, there are two projects that, once complete will connect more than 1,200 residents to high-speed Internet service. In Alabama, about 500 residents near Grove Hill, which is part of TDS’ Butler Telephone Company, will gain access to high-speed Internet service. About 90 miles of fiber optics cabling is being installed and eight cabinets are being placed as part of this project.
TDS’ stimulus-funded project around Paint Bank and Abbott, Virginia, includes six cabinets. Once complete, about 300 residents in TDS’ New Castle Telephone Company exchange will have access to high-speed Internet service. The CenturyLink work in Standardsville, Virginia comes from a separate program. CenturyLink took funding from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its Connect America Fund (CAF) to help expand broadband availability to the area.
CenturyLink accepted approximately $1.3 million in CAF funds. CAF Funds were initially rejected by the big telcos including AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. Now, some funds have been accepted by the companies to put toward work. Rural demand for high speed internet access has increased at a steady pace year over year, while access has not. These projects reach out to rural and small town populations.