Alabama-based Dragonfly Internet was created last year when ITC Holding Company bought a local fixed wireless provider and opted to change the name, explained Dragonfly CEO David Hartin in an interview with Telecompetitor. Since then, Dragonfly has been upgrading the fixed wireless equipment that the previous company had deployed and expanding to unserved and underserved areas using a mixture of fixed wireless and fiber.

“Our preference is to use fiber where we can,” Hartin told us. “But there will be communities where fixed wireless will make a lot of sense to do. We will always be a hybrid.”

One of the company’s next fiber builds will be in Brewton and East Brewton, Alabama – a project that was made feasible via a deal with Alabama Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company that serves a large part of the state.

Alabama Power is deploying a fiber network to support smart grid operations. That network also has extra capacity that the company will lease to Dragonfly. The power company fiber will serve as Dragonfly’s backbone network and Dragonfly will build the last-mile infrastructure to customer locations.

The deal came about because Dragonfly was “looking at ways to lower construction costs, and Alabama Power was looking for partnerships to monetize its fiber investment,” Hartin explained.

A recent change in Alabama law now gives electric companies more leeway in establishing partnerships with broadband providers.

Dragonfly will offer speeds up to 10 Gbps and is obligated to make service available to any Alabama Power customer.

“If you have one of their meters, within 10 days, we will get service to you once the network is built,” Hartin said.

Hartin hopes to replicate the deal with Alabama Power in other towns in the state. He also anticipates applying for funding from the state to cover some of the costs of deploying fiber in unserved and underserved areas.

Some small towns won’t be eligible for funding because the cable company offers service at speeds that are sufficient to qualify as served, Hartin explained. But often there will be eligible areas surrounding those towns where Dragonfly sees an opportunity to win funding.

Dragonfly owner ITC Holding Company is distinctly different from other private equity companies that are making big investments in broadband providers. The company stands apart in that it was established over 100 years ago as a rural telecom provider.

More recently the company began investing in broadband providers, specializing in those serving rural areas.

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