Tennessee Announces Broadband Grants to Residents
Tennessee Residents Need Quality Internet Access
No matter what zip code a Tennessee resident lives in, Governor Lee said that they deserve to have the same access to high-speed broadband internet. The state's investment in internet connectivity will level the playing field for rural residents of the state. The state will work with 13 providers in different rural areas to deliver the broadband to nearly 18,000 residents.
What Governor Lee Is Doing to Help With Broadband Connectivity
The Tennessee government has proposed investing $200 million to achieve the goal of giving all state residents access to high-speed broadband. The public funds would be combined with additional funds from the private sector. The investment is expected to boost eCommerce, support small businesses, expand access to telehealth and other healthcare services and improve educational outcomes in the state's pre-K to 12th grade students as well as its college students.
Tennessee's Current Broadband Access Levels
According to a report from the Federal Communications Commission, about one out of every six rural residents of Tennessee lacks access to broadband internet. This data is from the 2020 Broadband Deployment Report. Since 2018, there have been $60 million in grant funds distributed for expansion through the Broadband Accessibility Grant Program. Those grants brought broadband to 33,000 homes and businesses. More than 83,000 Tennessee residents gained access to faster internet.
Why People Need Broadband Internet
Today's lifestyle of telecommuting, learning from home and working from home shows how much people rely on high-speed internet. Without it, it is difficult to access work platforms, such as Zoom. It is also difficult for a student to go online for six hours a day if their internet is slow and cannot handle the video and audio feeds of live learning. People who do not have access to high-speed internet are at a huge personal and professional disadvantage. Thanks to the financial support, more than 7,000 homes and businesses will get connected. This will position those students, workers and business owners for more success in the future.
About the Grants
The current round of grant funding is the fourth iteration of the Broadband Accessibility Grant Program. Access to the funds is competitive. The agency received more than $40 million in requests for funding. There were 13 grant recipients that were able to demonstrate a high need for the funds along with the ability to implement and sustain the long-term projects. Each of the 13 recipients also has a lot of community support. The grantees will get $21.1 million in matching funds if they complete the projects. The total amount of grant funds will be $36 million across the whole state of Tennessee. Project managers have to build out the infrastructure within two years of receiving the funds.
Which Companies Are Getting Grant Funds
For this round of the Broadband Accessibility Grant Program, recipients in the state of Tennessee include the Appalachian Electric Cooperative, which will receive $919,500.00 for serving parts of rural Grainger County. The Ben Lomand Communications company will get $179,695.56 for serving parts of Coffee County. Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative was awarded $727,955.56 for serving parts of Bledsoe County. Comcast will get $33,333.33 for providing access to the internet in parts of Roane County. In Obion County, Gibson Electric Membership Corporation will get $1,379,944.00. The Loretto Telephone Company has been awarded $1,700,000.00 for serving parts of Lawrence County's home and business owners. The Peoples Telephone Company will get $2,000,000.00 for providing internet to parts of Benton County. Point Broadband is expected to receive $1,020,948.89 serving parts of Hawkins and Hancock counties. The Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Cooperative has been granted $1,580,851.00 for serving parts of Lauderdale County. The United Communications company will get $782,976.00 for serving parts of Bedford and Marshall counties. The Volunteer Energy Cooperative has been awarded $647,890.00 for serving parts of Meigs County. Volunteer First Services will get a check in the amount of $1,924,783.33 for serving parts of Cumberland County. The final recipient this time is the West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative, which will get $2,000,000.00 for serving parts of Weakley County. For more information, residents and business owners can navigate to https://www.tn.gov/broadband.