Windstream has applied for $238 million in federal stimulus grants to expand broadband availability and offer faster Internet speeds to more than half a million homes and businesses in rural areas in 16 states.
The Little Rock-based rural telecom would provide $80 million in funding under the grant applications submitted to the Broadband Initiatives Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS). The total cost of the proposed project would be approximately $318 million.
"Windstream has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to deploy broadband services to virtually every community in our network and now serves more than 1.1 million high-speed Internet customers," said Mike Rhoda, senior vice president of government affairs for Windstream. "But the costs to deploy broadband to the vast majority of our remaining, unserved customers are prohibitive. The federal grants offered by RUS cover up to 75 percent of the costs and greatly improve the economics for deploying broadband deeper into rural America. The grants create opportunities for further broadband deployment that otherwise would not exist."
Windstream would expand its fiber network by more than 7,000 miles and install additional equipment in its facilities to expand and enhance broadband service to about 500,000 homes and 80,000 businesses within 320 exchanges under the project. If approved, the project would enable Windstream to make high-speed Internet available to 93 percent of the company's three million voice lines, up from 89 percent currently. Maximum speeds for the stimulus project areas would range from 6 Mbps to 12 Mbps.