Thursday, September 30, 2010

Windstream Gets Another Broadband Stimulus Win, For Central Arkansas

Communities to be Served Identified by Carrier 09/30/2010 San Francisco - Winstream Communications (Nasdaq: WIN), the Little Rock based rural local exchange carrier (RLEC), today was awarded $7.3 million award in broadband stimulus funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for an area in Central Arkansas.

According to a statement rleased earlier today by USDA, the $7.3 million in federal package will be secured by a local match of $2.4 million from Windstream to "allow The Windstream Corporation to provide digital telephone, high-speed Internet and high-definition video and entertainment services to residential and business customers." 

"The network stands to benefit approximately 15,000 people, more than 330 businesses and 33 anchor institutions that otherwise may never enjoy the benefits of broadband. In addition to the 122 jobs created or retained, the company estimates this project will create, it will provide a foundation for economic growth and job creation for decades to come," said the statement issued by the Office of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Company spokesman Scott Morris detailed for us the 13 Central Arkansas communities which will be served with new broadband infrastructure thanks to the USDA award: Crossett (Ashley Co.), Harrison (Boone Co.), Sheeridan (Grant Co.), Green Forest (Carroll Co.), Quitman (Cleburne Co.), Dalark (Dallas Co.), Greenbriar (Faulkner Co.), Mulberry (Franklin Co.), Bigelow and Perryville (Perry Co.), West Fork and Elkins (Washington Co.), and Wye in Pulaski County.  Each of these communities is currently served by a Windstream exchange in which broadband service is not available, according to the statement to us by Mr. Morris.

Windstream successfully used its congressional delegation representing its extensive rural footprint to work to change the rules for Round2 of the Department of Agriculture's part of the broadband stimulus program. The carrier, like large LECs AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ), were loudly critical of the rules for Round1 of the program that were jointly issued in July of 2009 by the USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
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