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NTIA Awards Middle Mile to 35 Projects in 350 Counties with 12,000 Miles of Fiber

$930 million in federal funding will leverage a total of nearly $1.8 billion in middle mile broadband infrastructure.



Photo of Alan Davidson (left) and Drew Clark at Mountain Connect in May 2022

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2023 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Friday announced $930 million in funding for middle-mile broadband, nearly all of the $1 billion available for such projects under the bipartisan infrastructure law.

In all, 35 projects were announced by the Commerce Departments, and these projects will cover 350 counties in 35 states and Puerto Rico. The $930,021,354.34 in federal funds roughly half of the $1,778,482,043.99 in total project costs supported by the federal funds.

Join Broadband Breakfast for a discussion of the Middle Mile Funding Awards in our Broadband Breakfast Live Online event on June 21, 2023.

“The Middle Mile program is a force multiplier in our efforts to connect everyone in America,” said NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson, in a news release.

With a total of $1 billion available for middle mile grants, these awards are just a small foretaste of the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Funds – $42.5 billion – to be awarded. That process will kick off in two weeks, when NTIA is set to announce the state funding allocations.

“Middle Mile infrastructure brings capacity to our local networks and lowers the cost for deploying future local networks,” Davidson said. “These grants will help build the foundation of networks that will in turn connect every home in the country to affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service.”

The states receiving the largest funds for these middle mile projects are Alaska ($89 million), California ($73 million), Texas ($72 million), Michigan ($61 million), New Mexico ($50 million), Nevada ($44 million) and Kansas ($43 million).

Notable awards

The largest single federal award was to QSH Parent Holdco LLC in Alaska, which received an $89 million award to support a $151 million project. Other large single-project awards include the California Department of Technology, which received a $73 million award to support a $188 million project, and the Peninsula Fiber Network in Michigan, which received $61 million to support an $88 million project.

See table below for full awards.

Zayo took the prize for the company or organization with the largest aggregated federal award. The broadband fiber company received three awards totaling $92 million: $55 million for a Texas project in the counties of Loving, Borden, Parker, Andrews, Tarrant, Gaines, Martin, Winkler, Shackelford, Fisher, Dallas, Scurry, Palo Pinto, Stephens, El Paso, Culberson, Dawson, Reeves, Jones, and Hudspeth; $24 million for a project in Oregon, and $13 million for a second East Texas project that also serves Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia.

Zayo’s total project costs are $91 million in Texas, $48 million in Oregon, and $20 million in East Texas.

New Mexico ENMR Telephone Cooperative received the $50 million to support a $102 million award, the State of Nevada received the $44 million to support an $87 million award, and the Kansas Department of Commerce received the $43 million to support an $87 million project.

A quick analysis of the awardees by Broadband Breakfast appeared to show that about half of the 35 awards were to private companies, and the other half roughly evenly split among pure government entities, utilities, cooperatives, and other economic development or quasi-public entities. One of the 35 awardees is to a Tribe.

Additional details

Awardees have been waiting nearly nine months for these decisions. Applications for the program were due by September 30, 2022. More than 260 applied for $7.47 billion in funds.

The middle mile program will “lower the cost of access and increase bandwidth,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Much like how the interstate highway system connected every community in America to regional and national systems of highways, this program will help us connect communities across the country to regional and national networks.”

  • The projects will deploy more than 12,000 miles of new fiber that will pass within 1,000 feet of 6,961 community anchor institutions.
  • All projects are primarily for fiber future-proof fiber as the primary technology.
  • Grants span from $2.7 million to $88.8 million, with an average award amount of $26.6 million.
  • Additional grants will be announced on a rolling basis, NTIA officials said.

Below are the awards, sorted by federal funds received. Full information is available at the NTIA’s web site.

Award  Total Project Cost  Federal Funds Received State
QSH Parent Holdco LLC  $150,799,819.89  $       88,896,493.83 Alaska
California Department of Technology  $187,586,206.04  $       73,000,000.00 California
Peninsula Fiber Network, LLC  $  87,509,579.61  $       61,256,705.72 Michigan
Zayo, LLC  $  91,887,375.00  $       55,132,425.00 Texas
ENMR Telephone Cooperative  $102,348,503.00  $       49,858,624.00 New Mexico
State of Nevada  $  87,094,918.76  $       43,547,459.38 Nevada
Kansas Department of Commerce  $  69,730,044.00  $       42,514,219.13 Kansas
MidAmerican Energy Company  $  75,693,762.48  $       37,839,311.86 Iowa
Hawaiian Telcom, Inc.  $  87,466,529.00  $       37,356,955.00 Hawaii
Omaha Tribe of Nebraska  $  36,374,797.00  $       36,374,797.00 Nebraska
Pima County  $  43,283,954.00  $       30,281,277.00 Arizona
State of Maine  $  53,353,132.12  $       30,016,472.13 Maine
Horizon Telcom Inc.  $  48,275,817.00  $       27,540,553.83 Ohio
Missouri Network Alliance, LLC  $  54,037,925.53  $       26,478,583.51 Missouri
Troy Cablevision, Inc.  $  52,610,443.35  $       26,299,960.63 Alabama
Appalachian Power Company  $  50,208,602.46  $       25,054,092.63 West Virginia
County of Cumberland  $  34,538,131.62  $       24,176,692.13 New Jersey
Zayo, LLC  $  48,119,568.00  $       24,059,784.00 Oregon
DCN, LLC  $  43,801,276.61  $       19,710,574.47 North Dakota
Baltimore Gas & Electric  $  30,889,369.68  $       15,438,845.47 Maryland
Dairyland Power Cooperative  $  30,387,913.86  $       14,890,077.79 Wisconsin
Commonwealth Edison Company  $  83,752,765.20  $       14,557,740.21 Illinois
Development Authority of the North Country  $  24,450,000.00  $       14,547,750.00 New York
Missouri Network Alliance, LLC  $  29,688,739.63  $       14,547,482.42 Oklahoma
Zayo, LLC  $  19,554,630.00  $       13,688,241.00 Texas
DoveTel Communications, LLC. dba SyncGlobal Telecom  $  32,246,573.54  $       12,234,350.00 Georgia
Whidbey Telephone Company  $  16,831,726.00  $       11,782,208.20 Washington
Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative, Inc.  $  16,795,000.00  $       11,756,500.00 Montana
Indiana Michigan Power Company Inc.  $  23,415,007.82  $       11,684,088.90 Indiana
MCNC  $  18,959,598.00  $       11,186,162.82 North Carolina
Liberty Communications of Puerto Rico LLC  $  18,986,670.45  $         9,303,468.52 Puerto Rico
Syringa Networks LLC  $  10,744,863.41  $         6,209,732.74 Idaho
Concho Valley Electric Cooperative, Inc.  $   6,688,442.75  $         3,276,667.98 Texas
WANRack  $   5,738,951.17  $         2,812,086.07 Florida
BIF IV Intrepid Opco LLC  $   4,631,407.01  $         2,710,970.97 Colorado



The High Cost of Fiber is Leading States to Explore Other Technologies

If the state chose to solely install fiber, underserved communities would be left out, said state broadband leaders.



Photo of Sandeep Taxali of New Mexico, Kaiti Saunders of Verizon, Edyn Rolls of Oklahoma and Brian Newby of North Dakota (left to right)

WASHINGTON, November 17, 2023— The high cost of fiber installation has led states to pursue hybrid fiber models to ensure rural and underserved communities have access to the internet.

Speaking at the U.S. Broadband Summit here on Thursday, state broadband officials expanded on the challenges they face in ensuring broadband deployment.

Sandeep Taxali, broadband program advisor with the New Mexico Office of Broadband Access, said that New Mexico’s $745 million allocation under the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program falls short of the $1.3 to 2.5 billion that the state would need for full fiber deployment.

If the state chose to solely install fiber, underserved communities would be left out, he said.

“We want to lead with fiber but we also recognize that advanced fixed wireless and hybrid fixed wireless and fiber and satellite have a seat at the table for the very high cost remote areas where fiber is just going to not allow us to get the mission done,” Taxali said.

Jade Piros, director of Kansas Office of Broadband Development said her state is likely chosing to do 75% fiber model and 25% other technologies. Uncertainty of the cost from broadband providers make it difficult to have a standard cost calculation.

“We have to get everybody connected, and that’s why we require a lot of flexibility in shifting our expectations and the willingness to work closely with providers and be responsive to what they’re telling us,” Piros said.

Edyn Rolls, director of broadband strategy at the Oklahoma Broadband Office, expressed optimism that all of the underserved residents in her state would be reached, despite having what she said was an estimated $500 million shortfall.

“We will find the technologies that are going to be less expensive and achieve the needed model,” Rolls said. “We are trying to reach universal access. That is the goal.”

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In New York City, Sharing Broadband Infrastructure Takes on a New Dimension

Panelists from Stealth Communications and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners addressed operational and financial broadband



At VON: Evolution, Drew Clark, Joe Plotkin of Stealth, and David Gilford of Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (left to right)

NEW YORK, November 6, 2023 – Expanding competitive broadband infrastructure in New York City is challenged by aging conduit access and difficulties attaching fiber lines to utility poles, experts said at a panel discussion here on Thursday.

Register for Digital Infrastructure Investment in Washington on December 5, 2023!

In a discussion called “Building Beyond BEAD,” a reference to the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment grant program at VON Evolution, a tech and telecom summit, panelists highlighted the critical role of funding for digital infrastructure investment.

Joe Plotkin, business development director for New York fiber provider Stealth Communications, explained how the city’s underground conduit system dates back to the 1880s. This legacy infrastructure helps new entrants like Stealth run fiber by providing conduit access through an established system long occupied by incumbents like Verizon and Altice.

Above ground, pole attachment policies also stymie broadband competition, according to David Gilford, head of policy and strategic partnerships at Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, a company that builds technology-enabled infrastructure, backed by institutional investors including Alphabet.

Gilford advocated for greater sharing of “scarce” pole real estate among competitive carriers looking to deploy fiber and wireless infrastructure.

Plotkin and Gilford explored these challenges at a panel organized and moderated by Broadband Breakfast CEO Drew Clark at VON Evolution. They examined how private capital can help bridge broadband gaps as an alternative to, or extension beyond, government funding programs like the $42.5 billion BEAD initiative.

While BEAD will expand service to unserved and underserved areas, Plotkin noted it may have limited impact in locations deemed served. He gave the example of old apartment buildings in New York City that lack modern wiring, leaving residents with poor broadband options.

Gilford explained companies like SIP make investments in physical infrastructure like shared radio access networks and other wireless components. But his company does not build the lower-level fiber networks itself, instead partnering with both municipalities and private providers like Stealth.

Plotkin emphasized fiber remains the “gold standard” for reliable, high-capacity broadband versus other technologies like satellite. But innovations are still needed in running fiber the “last 50 feet” into residences and businesses, including affordably wiring older apartment buildings.

The panelists named immersive extended reality environments, two-way video calling, cloud computing and connected vehicles as emerging applications dependent on robust fiber and wireless networks.

Editor’s note: Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners makes investments in physical infrastructure like shared radio access networks and other wireless components, but does not actually invest in fiber routes or cell towers, as was stated in a prior version of this story. Additionally, SIP is not best described as a venture capital spin-off of Google, but as a technology-enabled builder of infrastructure backed by institutional investors including Alphabet. The story has been corrected.

Register for Digital Infrastructure Investment in Washington on December 5, 2023!

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Expert Opinion

Bill Long: How Middle Mile Investments Close the Digital Divide

Internet for all: Zayo’s mission to connect what’s next.



The author of this Expert Opinion is Bill Long, Chief Product Officer at Zayo

Over four million children couldn’t access the internet for online learning during the pandemic. Currently, 42 million Americans lack broadband access, creating a major barrier to opportunity for U.S. families impacted economically, educationally and socially.

Growing up in an underserved area, I witnessed the transformative power of connectivity and its potential to uplift communities. As Zayo’s Chief Product Officer, I am passionate about utilizing technology to connect people and businesses. My role involves leading the company’s product strategy and roadmap, with a strong focus on developing innovative products and services that expand internet access. Through our recent funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Middle Mile Grant Program, Zayo is taking decisive steps to connect communities and pave the way for a more inclusive and connected future. I’m proud to be a part of this effort.

Zayo’s transformative middle-mile projects

The $92.9 million in funding represents a major milestone in our commitment to closing the digital divide. With these funds, we plan to undertake three projects extending network infrastructure across eight states and over 2,100 route miles. These projects have been carefully selected based on needs-based criteria, such as current broadband speeds, rural and socio-economic indicators, to ensure we can significantly affect marginalized communities. Fiber is the foundation for broadband for all. Connecting these regions can bridge the technological gap and create a pathway for better economic prospects and educational resources.

Oregon-California-Nevada Project

The first project aims to build a high-capacity fiber route spanning over 622 route miles — or fiber optic cables linking locations along a specific route — to connect communities in Oregon, California and Nevada. Our primary goal is to connect these underserved communities and benefit households, businesses and anchor organizations in Oregon, California and Nevada.

El Paso to Dallas Project

Our second project involves constructing a high-capacity, middle-mile fiber route stretching over 644 miles to establish broadband in rural areas across Western Texas, from El Paso to Dallas. These areas currently lack fiber networks with the capacity to serve entire rural communities.

Dallas to Atlanta Project

The third project focuses on creating additional network connectivity exit ramps along our existing unique, five-state route between Dallas, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia, covering 822 route miles.

Network connectivity exit ramps are crucial access points and off-ramps for data traffic, facilitating seamless connections and providing enhanced flexibility to customers. By optimizing network efficiency and streamlining data transfers, they lead to improved user experiences and higher performance for businesses across industries. These exit ramps add value by meeting evolving digital demands and solidifying Zayo’s position as a leader in innovative, future-ready network solutions.

We targeted these areas in particular because the median broadband access speed is at or less than 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) down * 25 Mbps up. We’ve observed that a significant percentage of the population in these regions falls under the federal poverty rate, and many school districts have a high level of participation in the national school lunch program. Additionally, 36 schools are within 1,000 feet of the fiber routes, meaning they’ll benefit from improved connectivity, enabling them to access essential online resources, support remote learning initiatives and enhance educational opportunities for students and faculty alike.

​​Connecting communities one project at a time

Zayo’s middle-mile mission is built on partnerships with government entities and local ISPs. These collaborations foster economic growth within the state and ensure broadband connectivity for underserved areas. Our strong relationships with local ISPs, cultivated over years of working together to interconnect on our network, allow us to identify and address the specific needs of each community. We are actively working with ISP partners and local broadband offices to identify other potential underserved areas.

Fiber is the perfect solution for connecting underserved areas because it is a long-lasting, reliable, scalable infrastructure asset. Fiber can connect the edge to the core and support a wide range of applications, including 5G, cloud computing and enterprise networking. With the support of our partners, we aim to foster a collaborative ecosystem around fiber, ensuring equal internet access for all communities and preventing them from becoming isolated broadband islands.

This funding is a step forward in our mission to help transform remote education, telemedicine and public safety communication. We understand that connectivity is both a technological endeavor and an essential tool for empowerment and economic development. Internet access is a fundamental right, and my mission is to provide reliable bandwidth to these communities, foster economic growth and level the digital playing field.

As Chief Product Officer at Zayo, Bill Long leads the company’s overall product strategy, financials, and roadmap. He has nearly two decades of experience in the telecommunications industry with expertise in interconnection and infrastructure services, enterprise and wholesale voice, and business and product development. Prior to joining Zayo, Bill served as senior vice president of product management and was responsible for the overall growth and profitability of Equinix Interconnection and was Voice President of Voice Services at Level 3 Communications. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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