Point Broadband Fiber Holding LLC and Tallapoosa River Electric Co-Op have entered into a memorandum of understanding in 2020 that will allow Point to run broadband fiber on TREC poles. Point was then able to submit a bid as part of the Federal Communications Commission Rural Opportunity Phase I auction.
Point entered the FCC Rural Development Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction to receive subsidies, spread over 10 years, to serve eligible rural census block groups. This $100 million fiber-to-the-premise network will extend from north of Piedmont to near Eufaula. Point will have six years to complete the construction. Tallapoosa River Electric Co-op is parnering with Point on this historic endeavor. Point is seeking other utility and government partnerships to expedite the fiber network deployment and does have plans to build out the towns, as well as the rural areas.
Winners of the auction must provide internet service to 40 percent of the locations in the areas they bid on within three years after they start receiving their subsidy, with another 20 percent in the fourth year and other 20 percent of locations serviced by the fifth year. The FCC says to expect new guidelines on the remaining locations in the tracts during the sixth year.
Point Broadband Vice President of Development Butch Brock said, "Construction should begin soon on the new internet infrastructure after the long-form certification process is complete, which Point expects to be in the fall of 2021. We estimate that 4,000 to 5,000 miles of fiber will be installed in East Alabama by Point Broadband as part of this project."
Randolph County Economic Development Authority Director Bryant Whaley said, "Not often do you get to end a year with an announcement then start a year with an announcment. Broadband has become the 21st century version of electricity. In many ways, broadband has been what has held back our rural areas. This is great news for our county. The addition of broadband capabilities to Wadley, Wedowee and Woodland is a game changer. This project is going to take time, but it will be well worth it in the end."