It’s the time of year that we look back and reflect, and while this year has certainly been a notable one for many reasons, we’re taking a look at the positive developments across our markets.
Throughout the year, our teams remained busy finding the best ways to serve our customers. This year looked different in our various service areas, but in total OTELCO conducted 1,388 Lightwave installations and invested more than $10 million to improve our network. We are now able to offer gigabit speeds at all Lightwave eligible locations, an important step in our effort to continue to provide the fastest speeds to customers whenever possible. As we’ve grown our network, we’ve also grown our team with 38 new hires in 2020 and we anticipate more in 2021 as we have several positions open now.
This summer, OTELCO received funding from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Broadband Accessibility Fund to build Fiber to the Premise to Morgan City. The $619,500 grant in addition to an OTELCO investment of $1,150,500 will allow us to deliver Fiber to the Premise to approximately 1,650 locations when construction begins in 2021.
Cable upgrades in Oneonta now deliver ten times more bandwidth to nearly 3,000 customers and offer gigabit service to approximately 5,500 locations.
OTELCO’s commitment to the communities we serve was demonstrated by an employee inspired donation of 31 Chromebooks and $655 in cash and gift card donations from OTELCO employees to the Brindlee Mountain Primary School in Union Grove after the school was destroyed by a tornado in February.
With grants from the ConnectMAINE Authority and Penobscot County TIF funds (both in the amount of $81,250) and a $162,500 investment from OTELCO, we were able to fund the build out of Fiber to the Premise to the unorganized territory of Argyle. Preliminary construction began in the fall and when complete in March we’ll offer speeds of 100/100, 300/300 and 1Gbps/1Gbps to 134 locations in Argyle.
OTELCO invested in two network upgrade projects in its Shoreham service area. In Orwell, an upgrade ensured that 22 locations in the Singing Cedars area that are served by a remote are now receiving the fastest possible signal and more stable connectivity. In West Cornwall, OTELCO improved its network with a 6-mile build to deliver Fiber to the Premise to 58 homes – an improvement that will deliver Internet speeds beginning at 100 Mbps upload and download.
This year, we were proud to offer 27% of all OTELCO-served locations access to gigabit speeds. With the ever-growing need for connectivity, and the demands placed on at-home networks as we all continue to add new personal devices to our homes, we know that we need to continue to adapt.