Project Update: USDA ReConnect Grant’s First-Year Fiber Construction Build Is Moving ForwardSubmitted by dbradt on Fri, 09/24/2021 - 12:54
When Will Construction Begin?
“When will construction begin?” That’s one of the most frequently asked questions we hear about our Sand Prairie fiber projects.
We were fortunate to be awarded a USDA ReConnect grant last year, however obtaining final approval has taken longer than expected. Completion of the federal environmental reviews were recently completed.
The Sand Prairie team has been busy working through the multiple federal grant requirements that must be completed before fiber build-out can begin. These include proper easements acquisition and obtaining needed permits. These are approximately 80 percent complete to date.
Fiber Neighborhoods – Year 1 Build-out
Sand Prairie Fiber Internet will fulfill the five-year grant requirement to build seven of the 21 fiber neighborhoods in our first-year build. This first year build-out includes the seven fiber neighborhoods indicated below.
- CDW3 – Chadwick (rural area)
- FTN1 – Fenton
- G20 – Galena (rural area)
- G18 – Galena (rural area)
- G21 – Galena (rural area)
- MCS1 – Mount Carroll (rural area)
- SR2 – Sand Ridge (East Dubuque/Menominee rural area)
All of these fiber neighborhoods related to the grant award will be begin in ‘Pre-construction’ (Phase 3) in Sand Prairie’s six-step build-out process. They are anticipated to begin ‘Construction’ (Phase 4) of the mainline fiber build-out in October/November 2021, beginning with G20 and G18 fiber neighborhoods pending arrival of fiber materials. Interior installations are set to begin Spring of 2022.
Jesse Shekleton, Director of Broadband, states, “Sand Prairie is working through the challenges of the increased demand for materials and delivery delays, specifically fiber materials that are affecting the entire fiber industry. We are continually seeking expedited fiber resources. We appreciate your patience and the Sand Prairie team is doing everything we can while working through these challenging times.”
USDA ReConnect Grant Overview
Jo-Carroll Energy was awarded a $14 million ReConnect grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas. Sand Prairie, a service of Jo-Carroll Energy, is using the grant monies to bring high-speed fiber internet to an area covering approximately 250 square miles, and providing access to over 3,000 rural homes in rural portions of Jo Daviess, Carroll, Whiteside and Stephenson counties.
What Is Being Constructed?
A high-speed, high-capacity fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) network within the 21 fiber neighborhoods will be constructed of both aerial and underground fiber applications following the existing Jo-Carroll Energy utility services, where available. Fiber internet utilizes a fiber-optic cable to connect to the Internet.