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AT&T beats out Comcast, Charter for $2.3M Indiana broadband contract

AT&T is set to build fiber to more than 1,200 residents in Delaware County, Indiana, after officials there chose the operator’s project proposal over two from cable competitors for a broadband expansion initiative. The contract is the fourth AT&T has announced in Indiana.

The operator will contribute $1.29 million to the build, while the county will provide an additional $990,000. The agreement calls for it to cover 1,249 locations within 18 months. An AT&T representative told Fierce advanced engineering work will begin once the contract is executed but noted it will use a mix of aerial and buried fiber. The representative added “both parties have agreed to collaborate on all necessary permits and approvals” for the build.

Speaking at a meeting of the Delaware County Commissioners, Bill Walters of the East Central Indiana Regional Planning District said three operators responded to the county’s request for proposals (RFP): Comcast, Charter Communications and AT&T. The Planning District worked with the county to put out the RFP. He noted the proposals from the cable players came with longer timelines of 24 and 36 months, though didn’t specify which company proposed which.

AT&T’s plan “was the quickest to reach the most efficient return for your investment towards the broadband initiative,” Walters said.

The deal in Delaware County is the fourth AT&T has announced in Indiana. In October of last year, the operator inked a nearly $40 million public-private partnership deal with Vanderburgh County to cover more than 20,000 locations. It followed up in July 2022 with a $4.4 million agreement with the town of Boonville to cover 4,000 homes and businesses.

Later the same month, it bagged a $13 million deal to cover more than 6,000 locations across nine counties in the state.

All told, AT&T has committed to reach more than 31,000 locations in the state by mid-2024. The operator has also inked public-private partnership deals in Kentucky and Texas and is looking to strike similar agreements for projects funded by money from the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program.

According to the Federal Communications Commission's new broadband coverage map, which includes data through June 2022, AT&T already provides limited fiber coverage within the county. However, this is concentrated in the county seat of Muncie. Comcast appeared to dominate the county with its cable service, while Charter has a presence in Grant County to the northwest.

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