Estimates of broadband deployment costs

The United States has a problem with construction costs; building a mile of road or train track costs a lot more here than in either Europe or Japan. And while many are talking construction in regards to high home costs, few have made the connection to broadband. A review of public studies confirms what many in the business have suggested, construction costs constitute around 75 percent to nearly 85 percent of the total project cost of broadband networks. Moreover, it has been widely documented that construction productivity has slumped in the United States and is at a much lower place So it should be natural to ask, are high construction costs limiting broadband deployment?

United States

“Billy Markham has been calling Verizon every couple years to ask about getting an internet cable to his house nestled in a hollow in Wise County. The answer was always the same: for \$23,000, it’s too expensive and not worth it for the internet service provider to lay the cable.” (link)

WiValley of Keene, New Hampshire is building a wireless broadband network, bringing high-speed internet to this steep and hilly town of roughly 340 people.
Rough calculation: \$1,529 per premise. (link)

With the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) offering telecommunications providers more incentives through the Flexible Grant Program to bring high-speed internet to unserved hilltowns, Comcast is reaching out to new towns, including Charlemont.
Rough calculation: \$3,923 per premise. (link)

Windstream has been awarded \$2.7 million in Phase 3 of the New NY Broadband Program. An additional Windstream investment of \$674,225 brings the total to almost \$3.4 million. The fund will support Windstream’s deployment of high-speed broadband to 751 rural locations in Western New York.
Rough calculation: \$4,527 per premise. (link)

Ben Lomand Connect is one of the recipients of a Tennessee broadband accessibility grant and will receive \$1.025 million for the project, which will bring high-speed internet to rural Coffee County, TN.
Rough calculation: \$5,125 per home passed. (link)

A back of the envelope calculation from Kansas: fiber optics cost about \$3,000 per home to build. (link)

“Albemarle County [Virginia] is one of four localities splitting nearly a million dollars in new grant funding to expand broadband access."
Rough calculation: \$1,223 per household. (link)

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced recipients of the 2017 Border-to-Border Broadband grant program, which helps to get broadband into underserved areas.
Rough calculation: \$1,963 per premise. (link)

The most viable way to provide broadband internet service to under-served parts of Pipestone County in Minnesota is with a wireless system, and even that is not feasible without a grant, a new report finds. A lot of good data is provided in this report. To build out to 1,747 homes, an all-fiber system requiring 458 miles of fiber was estimated to cost \$12,359,445, a hybrid system \$5,327,253, and an all wireless system \$1,002,809.
Rough calculation: \$7,074 per premise. (link)

Last week, broadband communications company AcenTek, along with Fillmore County had a golden shovel event celebrating the start of the Lanesboro Fiber Build Project in Minnesota. The project will cost close to \$2 million for 479 households and businesses; \$1.7 million of that is coming from a Minnesota grant, and a \$75,000 dollar loan from the Fillmore County Broadband Development fund.
Rough calculation: \$4,175 per premise. (link)

“Andy Malinoski of Frontier Communications said that in conjunction with the Connect America fund, Frontier has been able to invest \$63 million in Ohio broadband over the past few years with capital expenditures, which raised the household internet speeds for 14,300 residents who were CAF eligible."
Rough calculation: \$4,405 per premise. (link)

Bridging the last mile to provide broadband in Louisa County, Virginia proves daunting.
Rough calculation for Nelson County: \$8,098 per connected home. (link)

Newport Utilities out of Newport Tennessee plans to spend \$24.7 million to upgrade their electricity and broadband network. If it goes through, the utility could serve about 8,000 total premises.
Rough calculation: \$3,087 per pass. (link)

I wonder the backstory to this: “Wisconsin has been something of a laggard in extending high-speed Internet into rural areas after it turned down \$23 million in federal stimulus money in 2011.” Also this article lays out buildout costs for the state.
Rough calculation: \$4,693 per household. (link)

Last April, Tennessee passed a bill that provides \$45 million over three years in grants and tax credits for service providers to assist in making broadband available to unserved homes and businesses. In this story about an applicant, stats on broadband buildouts costs were laid out.
Rough calculation: \$5,150 per household. (link)

Brainerd, Minnesota.
Back of the envelope calculation: \$1,111 per premise. (link)

And here is another cost calculation for broadband deployment from Milton, Wisconsin.
Back of the envelope calculation: \$8,000 per household. (link)

The third round of New York State’s broadband grant program, the New NY Broadband Program, just got announced. Nine companies, including Verizon and others, won the grants to fund \$71 million in projects that will bring broadband to 19,774 homes.
Back of envelope calculation: \$3590 per premise. (link)


Some of the most isolated parts of East Yorkshire in the UK are to get superfast internet in a £6m scheme being organized by East Riding Council.
Back of the envelope calculation: \$3,613 per premise. (link)

UK rural fibre broadband provider Gigaclear has invested GBP 2.5 million to bring ultrafast broadband to communities in some of the most rural parts of Devon in the UK, offering speeds of up to 1 Gbps.
Back of the envelope calculation: \$1683.89 per property. (link)

Airband Community Internet, a wireless broadband provider, is moving forward with its network in Shropshire, England after becoming the delivery partner for Shropshire Council’s superfast broadband program in July. Great cheese that Shropshire.
Back of the envelope calculation: \$1,030 per premise. (link)

I did a little digging into the Danish government’s efforts to get broadband in rural regions.
Back of the envelope calculation: \$1090 per premise. (link)

Residents of Blackford and Compton Pauncefoot in the UK are getting a fiber service.
Back of the envelope calculation: \$670 per household. (link)

The Superfast Worcestershire program in the UK has signed a new £6.2 million extension contract with BT to reach more than 5,300 extra premises.
Back of the envelope calculation: \$1574.98 per premise. A previous buildout cost about \$1661 per premise. (link)

The Welsh government recently put out a series of " recommendations to help Wales develop a digital infrastructure which is as fast and reliable as that enjoyed anywhere else in the UK.” Here are some interesting tidbits from that report. The current uptake of superfast broadband in Wales is 35 percent. The government is shooting for 50 percent in the near term. The paper also gives some details for broadband buildout prices.
Back of the envelope calculation: \$2,048.58 per household. (link)

Cable television service provider WightFibre recently announced it has received a £35 million investment to build a full-fiber, future-proof, ultra-fast broadband network throughout the Isle of Wight.
Back of the envelope calculation: \$922.74 per premise. (link)

In Ireland, the National Broadband Plan is at least 10 to 12 years away from completion, given all the obstacles that must be overcome to implement it, a broadband expert has warned. Experts now say it could cost up to €1bn instead of the €275m initially set aside by the Government.
Back of the envelope calculation: \$2,148.38 per household. (link)

Politico Europe did a deep dive into TrueSpeed, a British telecom startup, that is trying to bridge UK’s rural digital divide. Note, however, the cost of getting broadband into 75,000 rural UK homes, £75 million.
Back of the envelop calculation: \$1,388.70 per home. (link)

More than 10,000 properties in rural Oxfordshire will get access to 1Gbps FTTP broadband by the end of 2019.
Back of the envelope calculation: \$1,430.63 per premise. (link)

The Aylesbury Vale Broadband project in the UK is currently said to be “considering expressions of interest” from potential buyers and this week also saw the operator’s MD depart.
Back of the envelope calculation (link)

The Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) broadband program confirmed that new partner Gigaclear has started work to connect the first 21 communities to a new fiber broadband network delivering speeds of up to 1 Gbps.
Back of the envelope calculation: \$2064.44 per premise. (link)

First published Feb 10, 2021