TDS Telecommunications Corp. released all the bidding details regarding its broadband Internet expansion projects in Indiana and Michigan to 17 contractors. The contractors have two weeks to respond.

Most networks will be completed in 2012, and the remaining will cut over in 2013.

The projects, funded in part through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, were awarded to TDS by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS). Once completed, more than 1,400 customers in the areas served by TDS’ phone companies will have access to a high-speed Internet connection. The TDS telcos that will benefit from the upgrades include Camden Telephone Company Inc., Home Telephone Company Inc., Tipton Telephone Company Inc., Tri-County Telephone Company Inc. and Communications Corporation of Michigan.

Says Larry Boehm, director/Network Implementation and Optimization at TDS, “We outlined the project and the timelines. Now, contractors have a chance to submit their bid and demonstrate they can meet the project expectations on deadline. We’re looking to hire the firms quickly so construction can get underway this spring. Our customers are ready and waiting for access to high-speed Internet service.”

The background: In August 2009, TDS submitted 13 applications for broadband funding. In December 2009 and January 2010, TDS was awarded two grants totaling $12.5 million from the RUS to expand broadband access in Chatham, Mich., and in Butler, Ala. In March 2010, TDS submitted 46 applications for round two funding consideration. In August 2010, TDS was awarded 42 grants (including the four Indiana projects and the Michigan project) bringing the company’s total awards to 44 and nearly $136 million to expand high-speed Internet services in 20 states. Engineering firms were selected and announced in February 2011, and now pre-bid meetings are taking place.

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