TDS begins construction today on their first of many broadband stimulus funded projects. Chatham, Michigan is the first market where TDS will put broadband stimulus dollars to work, bringing broadband to some 900 unserved households.
“TDS used to be known only as a phone company. Today, we are a broadband company. More than 93 percent of our customers have Internet access. But the last 7 percent are the toughest to reach. Many live in sparsely populated areas, like Chatham. Rural geographies push the limits of technology and make it difficult, albeit nearly impossible to develop a solid business case for deploying broadband. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is giving us a window of opportunity to make broadband available to many more residents in the Chatham area,” said David Wittwer, president and CEO of TDS at a groundbreaking ceremony today.
TDS will use a combination of FTTH, DSL, and “other technologies” to bring broadband speeds of between 3 Mb/s and 10 Mb/s to these new broadband deprived homes. TDS spokeswoman Cindy Tomlinson tells Telecompetitor that the Chatham project represents the largest, cost wise at $8.6 million, of their 44 total stimulus projects and will create or retain 170 jobs.
TDS received a total of $105 million in broadband stimulus funding, primarily from the RUS BIP program for last mile access projects. They plan to add $31 million of their own funding to stimulus projects, bringing their total stimulus investment to $136 million.
They selected four engineering firms earlier this year. They expect to begin construction on many more projects soon, with the Chatham project expected to be finished by May 2013.