Rural Broadband

Nextlink Internet, which was one of the top 10 winners in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) rural broadband funding auction, has purchased most of the assets of Bluestem Network, a fiber broadband provider based in Lancaster and Seward Counties in Nebraska.

In a press release, Nextlink said it plans on using Bluestem’s assets as “a base to continue growing our fiber internet presence across southeast Nebraska.”

The “first order of business,” Nextlink said, will be to make fiber broadband available throughout the communities of Seward, Milford, Emerald, and Pleasant Dale

Nextlink is already deploying fiber in nearby Gage County. The company has five local office locations in Nebraska and more than 60 employees in the state, according to today’s release.

According to the Bluestem website, Bluestem already offers symmetrical gigabit service in some areas for $60 a month. The company also offers symmetrical 300 Mbps service for $50 monthly and symmetrical 500 Mbps service for $55 monthly.

A Big Player That’s Getting Bigger

Nextlink won over $400 million in the RDOF program, which used a reverse auction to award funding for an area to the company that committed to deploying broadband for the lowest level of support. The company plans to use a combination of fixed wireless and fiber broadand for its RDOF-funded deployments to support speeds up to 1 Gbps.

Bluestem isn’t the first Nebraska broadband provider that Nextlink has purchased. In 2021, the company bought three other providers in the state.

The company also has made acquisitions in other states and is a partner in the Microsoft Airband program. The Airband initiative aims to make broadband available in unserved rural areas by relying, in large part, on fixed wireless.

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