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, October 22, 2020

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

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

The following is part three 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. 

So, what about me?

There have been questions about why Silver Star did not apply for more CARES grants for other areas. The answer is, in Wyoming, we applied for the grants that met the criteria that we felt we could fulfill. The criteria being: 

  • Provide broadband access to areas that are unserved with wired (terrestrial, not wireless), and the area has a maximum download speed of 10Mbps and/or a maximum upload of 1Mbps upload speed.
  • If it is a “Business Corridor” (Main Street) where the area does not have maximum terrestrial broadband service download speed of 25Mbps and 3Mbps upload.
  • The area must not be ACAM eligible (which excludes northern/lower Star Valley, WY and much of Teton Valley, ID.)

In Teton Valley, companies like Silver Star could not apply for CARES grants, so the onus was on the municipalities as per the grant rules. Only one downtown Driggs grant was awarded out of the five submitted in Teton Valley. The others did not meet the stringent criteria relative to other needs across the state and within the budget.   

So, what about the non-CARES areas?

Our intention is to build fiber to every possible yet reasonable location by 2026. We can’t do this alone in all our serving areas quickly enough without money! We are constantly on the lookout for other funding sources and apply for grants as they make sense and become available. We’ve applied for and been awarded federal grants that have helped the likes of Buffalo Valley, WY, a community that was terribly underserved with access to broadband. These types of grants are difficult to win, but clearly possible.

You may see other communities getting fiber but not understand that they have chosen to fund themselves through individuals, groups, or HOAs to get fiber more quickly. While this may not seem entirely equitable, the reality is that the communities and organizations that have the means to self-fund fiber projects allow us to prioritize them while waiting for funding and resources to come available for others. 

Coming up in Part IV – Learn about the complexities of grant applications and what needs to happen to fulfill them if awarded.