Windstream announced today that it has received authorizations from the FCC to receive a total of $523 million in RDOF funds, which the carrier sees as a springboard for growing through public-private partnerships (PPPs).
The funding will help Windstream extend broadband to approximately 193K locations across 18 states. RDOF is an FCC program offering funding to help cover the cost of expanding broadband to the unserved, and eventually, the underserved.
Windstream says construction has already begun in 16 of the 18 states where the company won funding. The company says it’s building gigabit-capable broadband to these RDOF funded locations.
The company includes RDOF participation as an example of its growing PPP focus. Windstream appears to define PPP participation as accepting funding solely from government programs. Others might define PPP a little more selectively, to include deeper public entity participation in a project.
“As the pandemic demonstrated, robust broadband has become an essential service as more and more of the nation’s economy moves online, and public-private partnerships are essential to making it available in the most rural areas of America,” said Tony Thomas, president and CEO of Windstream in a press release. “That’s why Windstream is participating in network expansion partnerships at the federal, state and local levels to deliver future-proof fiber broadband connectivity to our customers, and we have a strong track record of meeting our commitments.”
Windstream’s PPP focus became apparent last year at the Fiber Connect event, where in a keynote address, Thomas invited partners at all government levels to engage Windstream for partnerships.
The company claims it already has PPP projects underway in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New Mexico and Pennsylvania, with more are on the way. The company is pursuing other funding mechanisms beyond RDOF and will probably be active in the upcoming broadband infrastructure program.
Like most legacy telecom companies, Windstream is aggressively pursuing a larger fiber broadband overbuild strategy. The company has a $2 billion initiative underway to expand its fiber footprint to over 2 million locations.