Local internet service provider wins $87.8 million in government funding

 Local internet service provider wins $87.8 million in government funding - GeoLinks - Ryan Hauf

Photo taken by GeoLinks Co-Founder and CTO Ryan Hauf

 

A local internet service provider is going regional, thanks to $87.8 million in funding from the federal government.

GeoLinks, an 8-year-old Camarillo-based ISP that primarily serves businesses and rural areas, is among several companies that will receive funding from the Federal Communication Commission’s Connect America Fund Phase II Auction. The company plans on using the capital to bring high-speed internet to rural communities previously lacking connectivity.

The first phase of the fund was held around five years ago and catered to larger, national ISPs.

Money from the fund’s second phase, which totals around $1.5 billion, will be paid out in monthly installments over a 10-year period. GeoLinks will receive $731,000 monthly starting in May, according to CEO Skyler Ditchfield. The company is primarily focused on providing internet service to rural regions and businesses that may be overlooked by the nation’s larger ISPs.

Ditchfield said money from the Connect America fund would allow GeoLinks to create a residential division but said the focus would still be on primarily rural areas.

“It enables connectivity in rural parts of California,” Ditchfield said. “People that live in those locations can try new business ventures, educate themselves better and enable a lot of new internet services like video.”

GeoLinks currently provides internet service to various parts of Ventura County and most other Southern California counties. Local areas serviced by the company include rural parts of Ojai and Thousand Oaks. The company also services entities such as schools, libraries and hospitals in rural areas across the state.

The company plans on using the bulk of the money for new equipment and infrastructure, such as towers, wireless links and distribution. GeoLinks also plans on using around $5.5 million of the funding it will receive to service areas on the California-Nevada border. While GeoLinks will use some of the funding to begin servicing parts of Camarillo and Oxnard, it will also allow the company to make a larger regional push into the Central Valley and around northeastern parts of the state.

The company is allowed up to six years to use the funds to build out its network, although Ditchfield said GeoLinks aims to complete work within four years. As payments will be doled out throughout the next decade, funds received after the network is built will be used for operating costs, such as rent and maintenance.

Applications for the third phase of the fund will likely open in late 2019.

Tyler Hersko covers business news for the Ventura County Star. Reach him at [email protected] or 805-437-0312.

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