Helps 17 rural counties get connected

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced $14.8 million in broadband accessibility grants that will expand broadband service to more than 8,300 households and businesses in 17 counties across Tennessee.

“I am pleased to announce that we are getting our rural areas up to speed and expanding broadband in the areas that need it most,” said Lee. “I am committed to ensuring connectivity in every corner of our state as broadband impacts our goals for health care, education, economic development and beyond.”

According to the FCC’s 2018 Broadband Deployment Report, nearly one in four rural Tennesseans lack access to broadband. In addition to the $20 million included in Gov. Lee’s recommended budget for fiscal year 2020, these grants will continue to close the access gap ensuring rural Tennesseans have the tools needed for growth and prosperity.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) is working with the 13 grantees who demonstrated a high need for grant funding. Recipients also demonstrated the ability to implement and sustain the project long-term with strong community support.

“Broadband is critical to the sustained economic success of a community,” said TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe. “By expanding broadband accessibility, we are extending the runway of possibilities for new industry and development right here in Tennessee.”

Grantees will provide $20 million in matching funds for a combined investment of nearly $35 million across the state for the second year of funding. Infrastructure should be built out within two years of receiving the grant funds.

Recipients include:

  • Appalachian Electric Cooperative:  $1,739,581 serving parts of Jefferson and Grainger Counties
  • BTC Communications:  $701,102.16 serving the Walden Ridge Community in Rhea County
  • Ben Lomand Communications: $1,525,477.78 serving the Normandy community in Coffee County
  • Gibson Electric Membership Corporation:  $588,974 serving the Gadsden Community in Crockett County and part of Gibson County
  • Loretto Telephone Company:  $1,050,000 serving parts of Lawrence County
  • Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative:  $1,832,728.16 serving part of Humphreys County
  • North Central Communications:  $304,763 serving part of rural Sumner County
  • Peoples Telephone Company: $186,494 serving part of the Danville community in Houston County
  • Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative:  $817,406 serving the Griffith Creek community in Marion County
  • TDS Telecom:  $1,490,291 serving the Vonore community in Monroe County
  • Twin Lakes Telephone Cooperative:  $1,233,987.30 serving parts of Jackson, Smith, and Putnam Counties
  • Volunteer Energy Cooperative:  $1,317,488.45 serving the Spring Creek community in McMinn County
  • WK&T Telecommunications Cooperative: $2,000,000 serving part of Henry County

To learn more about the Tennessee’s broadband initiatives, click here.


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