LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Windstream has begun construction of its first broadband stimulus project in Georgia. The work in Young Harris is being funded in part by a federal grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The stimulus grants were designed to bring broadband to sparsely populated and remote areas where extending high-speed Internet service is cost prohibitive without a public-private partnership.
“This is an exciting day for Windstream and our customers in the Young Harris area,” said Jay Stubblefield, Windstream’s local manager. “Windstream had already built out our broadband network to every area that we could serve in a cost-effective way, and now for the first time we will be able to reach customers in some of the most rural parts of our community.”
Broadband access to the Internet gives users a powerful tool for education, commerce and entertainment.
Nationally, Windstream was the largest single recipient of broadband stimulus grants awarded on a competitive basis by the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service.
Windstream won grants totaling $181.3 million for projects in 13 states, including Georgia. The grants cover 75 percent of the cost of installing broadband. Windstream will invest the remaining 25 percent, a total of $60.4 million.
In the state of Georgia, the grant totals $16.7 million, and Windstream’s investment is $5.6 million.
In Young Harris, the project involves upgrading Windstream’s existing network with almost 12 miles of fiber optic cable as well as electronic equipment. It will reach approximately 280 potential customers in the Plott Town area and along state Highway 66 and Gum Log Road, giving them access to the Internet at speeds of at least 6 Mbps.
Construction is expected to be completed in late September, and the new broadband service should be available to Windstream customers in late October.
Additional broadband stimulus projects are planned in Blairsville and Hiawassee later in the year.
Windstream Corp. (Nasdaq: WIN), headquartered in Little Rock, Ark., is an S&P 500 communications and technology solutions provider with operations in 29 states and the District of Columbia and about $4 billion in annual revenues. Windstream provides IP-based voice and data services, MPLS networking, data center and managed hosting services and communication systems to businesses and government agencies. The company also delivers broadband, digital phone and high-definition TV services to residential customers primarily located in rural areas and operates a local and long-haul fiber network spanning approximately 60,000 route miles. For more information about Windstream, visit www.windstream.com