Narrowing the Digital Divide: Nextlink’s FCC Auction Share Targets Rural Areas

The Fort Worth-area company plans to invest $100 million in the first four years of a required six-year buildout to expand broadband access in the heartland.

Nextlink

Rural residents and businesses searching for a broadband internet option in North Texas found more reasons for optimism this week.

Nextlink

Nextlink will serve rural communities. [Photo Courtesy Nextlink]

Nextlink Internet has won the largest share of the Federal Communication Commission’s $1.98 billion Connect America Fund II rural broadband auction program that will bring high-speed Internet and voice services to under-served rural communities, the company said in a release.

Nextlink’s CAF involvement comes as Dallas-based tech giant AT&T Inc. announced it is taking the next steps in moving forward with Project AirGig, which will deliver broadband internet to rural areas via power lines.

The company, founded in 2012 and based in the Parker County community of Hudson Oaks west of Fort Worth, said it plans to invest $100 million in the first four years of the FCC’s required six-year build-out for the service.

Nextlink Internet is an Internet Service Provider that delivers high-speed internet and voice services to residential, business, and government customers across North and Central Texas and Oklahoma by utilizing fixed wireless and fiber optic technologies.

“We plan on investing over $100 million in the first four years of this build-out effort.”
Bill Baker

Nextlink co-founder and CEO Bill Baker said the company’s efforts will bring much-needed services to rural areas.

“We are excited to participate in the FCC’s mission to close the digital divide in rural communities across the U.S.,” Baker said. “We, alongside other CAF-enabled providers, will use these funds to bring desperately needed Internet services to rural parts of America who, frankly, have been left out of our digital economy.”

For the Connect America Fund, the FCC requires Nextlink and other providers to build out to 40 percent of the assigned homes and businesses within three years of becoming authorized to receive CAF support, the release said.

NEXTLINK HAS ACCELERATED ITS BUILD-OUT EFFORTS

Build-out must increase by 20 percent in each subsequent year, the release said, until total build-out is reached by the end of the sixth year.

“We have an accelerated plan to not just meet the FCC’s six year build-out requirement but exceed it. We plan on investing over $100 million in the first four years of this build-out effort,” Baker said.

A Nextlink tower rises above a rural area. [Photo Courtesy Nextlink]


He said Nextlink’s business model of focusing on its market-leading service quality and customer service experience will continue to translate to market success across the Connect America Fund area.

The FCC said in a release that, “53 percent of all homes and businesses served with support from the auction will have broadband available with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second.”

“Rural communities have been left behind due to the economic challenges of offering affordable high speed internet across low density markets.”
Ted Osborn

Nextlink’s service area runs from Fort Worth to the west and south, according to its website.

The Connect America Fund is also known as the Universal Service High-Cost program, and it is the FCC’s program to expand access to voice and broadband services for areas where they are unavailable.

The FCC provides funding via CAF Phase II to local communications companies to subsidize the cost of building new network infrastructure or performing network upgrades to provide voice and broadband service into those areas where service is a problem.

Nextlink

Ted Osborn [Photo Courtesy Nextlink]

Nextlink Senior Vice President of Strategy and Regulatory Affairs Ted Osborn said the FCC program affords rural areas is significant.

“Rural communities have been left behind due to the economic challenges of offering affordable high speed internet across low density markets,” Osborn said. “The FCC has taken a giant leap forward to bring cost-efficient funding for universal service…”

He said the service will benefit businesses and homeowners.

“Imagine a small business which can fulfill an order faster than before, or a student who can now actually utilize information from the internet for their studies and homework,” Osborn said.

Nextlink is ranked as one of the fastest-growing privately held companies by the Inc. 5000. 

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