Lumen, Windstream, Charter bag big bucks as Nebraska awards $61M for broadband

Big name providers Lumen, Windstream and Charter Communications were among the winners as the state of Nebraska doled out more than $61 million for broadband projects in the state.

The awards were made using money from the state’s Capital Projects Fund allocation. Nebraska Public Service Commission Chair Dan Watermeier said in a statement that “Through this first round of grants, we are able to fund 65 eligible broadband projects.” The program, however, was massively oversubscribed, with a total of 130 applications received.

Big winners included Allo Communications, which bagged $11 million for six projects, Great Plains Communications ($10.9 million for eight projects) and Stealth Broadband ($8.5 million for six projects). Lumen’s CenturyLink brand scored $4.8 million for seven projects, while Windstream got $3.7 million for three builds. Charter was close behind with $3.2 million for a single project and Cox Communications for $1.1 million for four builds.

Other notable winners included Skywave Wireless (nearly $5 million), the Nebraska Central Telephone Company ($3 million), Vyve Broadband ($1.8 million) and Nextlink Internet ($958,000).

Grantees have until December 27, 2024 to finish their projects, unless granted an extension by the Commission.

A total of roughly $80 million in funding was available in two of Nebraska’s three congressional districts, with each set to get roughly half the money available. District One received $40.3 million in this grant round, but awards covered only about half of District Three’s allotment. Nebraska said it is planning to open another application window to dole out the remaining funding available there. The Commission noted District Three projects which did not receive funding in the first round can be resubmitted when the next application window opens.

Windstream previously told Fierce it is building about 300,000 new fiber passings each year. Lumen, meanwhile, is ramping its fiber build back up after pressing pause on construction late last year. The company has said it expects to add around 500,000 new passings in 2023.

In September 2022, Nextlink won $4 million to bring fiber broadband to 1,000 locations in Gage County, Nebraska. Earlier this year, the operator acquired fiber-to-the-home assets in Nebraska from Bluestem Network to jumpstart its expansion there.