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Circle Fiber is building a FTTP network supporting 10 gigabit speeds to Cape Girardeau County, Missouri using funding from the USDA ReConnect program.

Circle Fiber, which is an operating unit of 30-year-old Big River Communications of Missouri, will eventually pass about 125,000 locations with the network expansion, according Nokia, which is a technology partner on the project.

The plan is for Circle Fiber and Nokia to deploy GPON and XGS-PON access technology using equipment based on the vendor’s Lightspan FX series. Full premise connectivity will be supported by Wi-Fi Mesh from Nokia. The network can be upgraded to 25 Gbps as necessary and can support virtualized access network control and management.

Cape Girardeau County is in the southeastern part of the state. Big River and Nokia have previously partnered on an LTE-based fixed wireless network.

“The Circle Fiber team lives in these communities, and we are committed to providing the fiber infrastructure and broadband services that will help the people and businesses in the area thrive,” Circle Fiber President Chris Simmons said in a press release about the project.

Last August, the USDA ReConnect program granted Big River $2.9 million to cover some costs of building an FTTP network connecting 4,839 people, 54 farms, 27 businesses, two public schools and a fire station in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. The investment is part of the $100 million in the USDA ReConnect CARES funding that was passed a year ago in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ReConnect funding comes in the form of grants, loans and grant/loan combinations.

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