The first round of the broadband stimulus program closed several weeks ago, and we are now starting to see its impact on service providers and the vendors who serve them. The latest news comes from Occam Networks, who has been chosen as the primary broadband access vendor for Rural Telephone Service/Nex-Tech’s $101 million broadband stimulus project.

Rural Telephone Service/Nex-Tech won the stimulus funding, which is a combination of grants and loans, to build or enhance broadband infrastructure in 21 communities and 26 rural areas across more than 4,600 square miles in western Kansas. “Bringing broadband into our communities now gives our region a competitive edge,” says Rural Telephone Service CEO Larry Sevier.

They will be using a combination of FTTN, FTTH, and WiMAX to deliver broadband services to over 23,000 households and 335 anchor institutions, providing 100 Mb/s capable connectivity to most of those homes, as well as 1 Gb/s connectivity to most of the anchor institutions. The build is expected to take three years to complete. “The project demonstrates that Broadband Stimulus projects can not only meet the minimum goals set by the National Broadband Plan but can also meet the strategic goals of 100Mbps to 100M homes and 1Gbps to anchor institutions,” said Juan Vela, Director, Solutions Marketing and Strategy for Occam Networks.

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The project is a big win for Occam, given the Rural Telephone Service/Nex-Tech project is the largest wireline project to date to flow from the broadband stimulus program.

Occam’s not alone in winning broadband stimulus business. Their competitors, Calix and Adtran, are also active with broadband stimulus projects. For these suppliers, the promise of the broadband stimulus program is beginning to materialize. I’m sure from their perspective, it couldn’t come soon enough. The program created a period of ‘de-stimulus’ in the months leading up to its inception, as service providers froze a lot of infrastructure build out to see how the broadband stimulus program would shake out.

There’s still a lot of money to spend from round one, and round two awards should be announced over the summer. The broadband stimulus windfall is just beginning.

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