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Friday, April 16, 2021

Local company lands contract for rural internet

Nextlink Internet, based in Hudson Oaks, announced Sept. 10 it has won the largest share of the FCC’s $1.98 billion rural broadband program which will bring high speed Internet and voice services to underserved rural communities. The award is $281 million over the next decade.

“We are excited to participate in the FCC’s mission to close the digital divide in rural communities across the U.S. 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,” Bill Baker, co-founder and CEO of Nextlink, said in a news release.

“Rural communities have been left behind due to the economic challenges of offering affordable high-speed internet across low density markets. The FCC has taken a giant leap forward to bring cost-efficient funding for universal service, and Nextlink is prepared to bridge the divide across our nation’s agricultural heartland,” Nextlink Senior Vice President of Strategy and Regulatory Affairs Ted Osborn said in the release.

“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. We find it tremendously satisfying to help bring a renewal of economic development to rural communities,” Osborn said

The FCC requires Nextlink and fellow providers to build out to 40 percent of the assigned homes and businesses within three years of becoming authorized to receive support. Buildout must increase by 20 percent in each subsequent year, until complete buildout is reached by the end of the sixth year.

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

He said it is an exciting time for the company, which began in 2012.

“As a rurally focused, small business, we understand this issue. We understand rural communities and their internet needs. We’re ready to execute on the FCC program requirements and look forward to working with the commission to fulfill the goals of their innovative program,” Baker said.

The Connect America Fund Phase II auction utilizes market dynamics to ensure higher performance and capital efficiency through a highly competitive process. The fund is supported by rate-payers instead of tax appropriations, Nextlink said in the news release.

Nextlink Internet delivers high speed internet and voice services throughout North and Central Texas and Oklahoma to residential, business and government customers utilizing fixed wireless and fiber optic technologies.

Nextlink was ranked No. 505 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list, with a three-year growth of 882 percent and 2016 revenue of $10.1 million.

– FWBP Staff

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