Monday, March 29, 2010

Hell Freezes Over: Windstream Applies for $238 Million in Federal Broadband Stimulus Funds 03/29/2010 San Francisco - Windstream (NASDAQ: WIN) the large consolidated rural local exchange carrier (RLEC), the corporate leadership of which has been frequent and pointed in its criticism of the Obama Administration's broadband stimulus program, today announced that it has applied for $238 million in broadband stimulus funds.

In a press release issued earlier today from its headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas, the company said that it is applying to "expand its fiber network by more than 7,000 miles and install additional equipment in its facilities to expand and enhance broadband service to about 500,000 homes and 80,000 businesses within 320 exchanges under the project."

As similarly announced last week by regional incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) Qwest (NYSE: Q), Windstream applied solely for federal broadband stimulus funds from the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Both carriers thus bypassed the application process of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Today at 10:00 PM (ET) is the filing deadline for the second and final round of the RUS effort, called the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). 

In an interview last September with Ed Gubbins of Connected Planet, Windstream's CEO Jeff Gardner displayed his open angst with the Obama Administration's broadband stimulus program, talking in derisive terms about the program, about some of the firms that applied in the initiative's Round I, if not about the President himself.

"Obama originally said he wanted to make sure people were accountable for that money," stated Gardner in the printed interview. "That’s why we’ve been talking to senators, saying, ‘Have some oversight. Don’t just give money to some company that has six times leverage that’s just going to piss it away,’” he concluded, according to veteran telecom sector journalist Gubbins.CrunchBase Information

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