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October 29, 2020

Things you didn’t know that you didn’t know about rural Telecoms – Part Four

The Who, What, When, Where & Why of Silver Star’s Broadband Expansion

The following is part four of a four-part series that we hope will explain the details of how Silver Star is building out its fiber-optic network over the next 5-10 years. 

Broadband Grant Awards Are Like Winning the Lottery.

Many variables need to be considered before a company like Silver Star will even apply for a grant. There are eligibility requirements such as whether an area already has what has been deemed to have sufficient internet speeds. There is the possibility that in any given neighborhood, some homes may have 25/3Mbps speeds, and others have 8/1Mbps (as an example), which may make the area ineligible. Then there’s the project scope, engineering planning and system design which takes a lot of time and determines if a grant is even able to cover the project cost within the scope and timeline as stipulated by the grant.   

There are other considerations as well.

Grant opportunities have a long list of criteria requirements that need to be met just from a speed perspective. Other hurdles are permits, environmental and archeological studies that need to be accepted and approved by federal, state, county, city and town governments.  Easements and rights of way need approving by municipalities and private property owners. In some communities, some driveways can be a ½ a mile long, which can simply be just too cost-prohibitive for fiber construction. Then there are situations where there are just too many complex access situations where some homes have one-way easements that only allow us to go so far and not serve an entire neighborhood. All this said, grants take time if you are lucky enough to win them. If won, there’s even more time for permits and studies to construct them. But we will keep trying.

To sum it up, grant awards don’t happen every day. We’ll continue to monitor when grants become available and whether to apply for them based on the eligibility criteria, circumstances and variables.  

If it’s so hard, then why are the CARES grants moving so fast?

Simply put, the states, cities, towns and counties have helped to fast track the typical requirements to complete these projects by the end of the year. It would otherwise be impossible to meet the deadlines.

The moral of all this is, WE WILL GET TO YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

We know that everyone wants it now. We know everyone wants to know when. Hopefully, this answers the question of “Why not me now!” But the reality is, for full transparency, we have an opportunity now to help almost 3,200 customers that would have been near impossible to otherwise serve within the next 8 years.

Why are you doing some work outside of the CARES areas but not here?

We are continuing our progress this year in some non-CARES (aka ACAM areas) but with the work at hand, and with winter around the corner, we will likely need to pick up where we left next year. The reality is that some communities will need to wait. For others, we still need time for engineering plans, studies, permitting and easements before we can say when we will get to you.

The good news is, we are optimistic that the CARES funding this year will allow us to expand our own capital investment to do even more than we thought in 2021 and beyond.

I hope that this series of articles has helped shed some light on why and when Silver Star is building its fiber-optic network. If you have any additional questions, please visit SilverStar.com, go to the CONTACT US page and submit your question in the Contact Us form.