Watch Communications, which has been a member of the Microsoft Airband initiative since last July, has announced broadband projects in Indiana and Illinois. The projects will feature partnerships with rural electric cooperatives to bring broadband to customers in those two states as well as Ohio and Kentucky.
About half the the targeted areas currently lack broadband. The two projects are with the Henry County Rural Electric Municipal Cooperative in Indiana and the Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative in Illinois.
“The need for reliable, high-speed Internet is so critical, especially now, as many Americans have shifted to working from home,” Watch Communications CEO Chris Daniels said in a press release about the Watch Communications Microsoft Airband plans. “Telehealth services are providing a crucial link to medical professionals, therapists, and counselors. Students need access to e-Learning platforms, and all of us are looking for more information in these challenging times. For those who live and work in rural areas, that’s a real challenge right now, and one that we’re committed to solving.”
Watch Communications, which is the internet business unit of the Benton Ridge Telephone Company, was formed in 1991 to bring broadband to areas of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
The company’s use of different delivery technologies, including fixed wireless and fiber, fits well with the Airband strategy of using the technology that makes sense in each specific instance. Airband aims to make broadband available in rural areas that lack service.
The Watch Communications Microsoft Airband projects will use fixed wireless solutions on towers, cooperative-owned elevators and community-owned water towers. In addition, the company will use TV white spaces spectrum for areas with “challenging terrain.”
Watch Communications has acquired providers in recent years and, with a funding haul of $52 million, was one of the big winner in the CAF II auction in 2018.
The Airband project was announced in July 2017.