True to form, Windstream this week announced it has begun construction on a Florida network upgrade funded in part through a broadband stimulus grant awarded by the Rural Utilities Service—and once again the announcement covers only a small part of stimulus projects the carrier has planned in the state.
Although Windstream won a total of $38.3 million for Florida, this week’s announcement only pertains to a project to deploy two miles or so of fiber optics and electronic equipment in the town of Mayo, which has a population of just over 1,000. The project will make Internet access at speeds of at least 6 Mb/s available to 60 customers.
Today’s announcement follows a pattern that Windstream has displayed in previous announcements of stimulus project starts—recognizing only one small project in an individual state. The company took the same approach in announcing stimulus starts in Kentucky, Iowa, Georgia, and Mississippi.
Windstream was the single biggest winner of broadband stimulus funding from the RUS—winning a total of $181.3 million in funding for projects in 13 states. But the carrier has taken its time in breaking ground on these projects. Perhaps Windstream wants to make sure that it has appropriate procedures in place before beginning aggressive deployment—or perhaps the company, like other stimulus winners, has seen delays as a result of a fiber shortage since the tsunami that hit Japan in March took Sumitomo, a key fiber supplier, offline.
One area where Windstream is not being especially conservative, however, is in the deadlines it is setting. The Mayo project is targeted for completion by the end of this month, with new broadband service available in mid-December.
If Windstream opts to heed the advice provided recently by the RUS, it may need to pick up the pace of its stimulus ground-breaking announcements. RUS officials warned stimulus winners recently that they need to begin spending stimulus funding or otherwise the funding could be at risk of being reclaimed by the government.