The Tennessee Department Of Economic And Community Development Recently Announced Nearly $15 Million In Grant Money To Help Provide Broadband Access To A Number Of Unserved Residents.
Photo Credit: Public Domain
Published March 8, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Grant Fund is in its fourth year of providing funds to assist with bringing better internet service across Tennessee. To date, the fund has provided over $100 million in state and federal money. This year, the TNECD received applications for grant money totaling over $40 million worth of funding requests.
Governor Bill Lee and Commissioner Bob Rolfe made the announcement on Friday, March 5. The latest grant amount of $14.9 million will serve 17,800 Tennesseans in 7,120 homes and places of business.
The FCC’s 2020 Broadband Deployment Reports shows that one in six individuals in rural Tennessee areas does not have access to broadband. Commissioner Rolfe addressed the need for improved broadband service across the state.
“As many of us have transitioned to a lifestyle of working, telecommuting, and learning from home, we have seen how much we rely on broadband, and those who do not have access are placed at a significant disadvantage,” Rolfe said.
Governor Lee recently discussed this in his State of the State address. In this talk, he proposed an investment of $200 million to ensure that all Tennesseans would have access to high-speed broadband. This investment will help to expand educational opportunities, health care access, and online business across the state.
“Every Tennessean should have access to the same high-speed broadband, no matter what zip code they live in,” said Governor Lee. “Our continued investment in internet connectivity will help level the playing field for rural communities across our state, and I thank these 13 providers for partnering with us to help nearly 18,000 more Tennesseans get connected.”
The money will be given to a total of 13 grant recipients. These recipients showed a need for the funding along with a plan and the community support to start and follow through with the project.
Those receiving the grants will provide matching funds, and infrastructure should be out within two years of receiving the money.
Of the 13 recipients, five of those are electric co-ops who serve some of the state’s most rural areas.
“Broadband access is an essential service for families and businesses alike, and that is just as true on the farm as it is on Main Street,” said Mike Knotts, Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s vice president of government relations. “We appreciate Governor Lee and ECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe’s commitment to bring high-speed connectivity to rural Tennessee, and we are honored that we have once again turned to co-ops to get the job done.”
- Appalachian Electric Cooperative: $919,500.00 serving parts of Grainger County
- Ben Lomand Communications: $179,695.56 serving parts of Coffee County
- Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative: $727,955.56 serving parts of Bledsoe County
- Comcast: $33,333.33 serving parts of Roane County
- Gibson Electric Membership Corporation: $1.379,944.00 serving parts of Obion County
- Loretto Telephone Company: $1,700,000.00 serving parts of Lawrence County
- Peoples Telephone Company (TEC): $2,000,000.00 serving parts of Benton County
- Point Broadband: $1,020,948.89 serving parts of Hawkins and Hancock counties
- Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Cooperative: $1,580,851.00 serving parts of Lauderdale County
- United Communications: $782,976.00 serving parts of Bedford and Marshall counties
- Volunteer Energy Cooperative: $647,890.00 serving parts of Meigs County
- Volunteer First Services: $1,924,783.33 serving parts of Cumberland County
- West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative: $2,000,000.00 serving parts of Weakly County