Thirteen Tennessee counties will benefit from the Broadband Accessibility Grant Program designed to expand the infrastructure needed for fast internet connections.
“This is big news for our members who received these grants,” says Levoy Knowles, TTA executive director.
TTA members will receive five of nine grants, or about half of the almost $10 million distributed through the program:
- Aeneas Communications: $190,000 to serve parts of Hardeman County
- Ben Lomand Communications: $1 million to serve the Pocahontas Community in Coffee County
- DTC Communications: $1.7 million to serve parts of Smith and Wilson counties
- Scott County Telephone Cooperative: $1.9 million to serve Surgoinsville in Hawkins County
- Volunteer First Services: $76,714 to serve the Sunset Ridge Community in Cumberland County
Other grant recipients include Comcast, Gibson Electric Membership Corporation, Sunset Digital Communications and Tri-County Fiber Communications.
Building a better future
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced the grants in January.
The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act’s goal is to increase broadband to more Tennesseans and to offset the capital expenses of deploying broadband. The grants will provide broadband service to more than 5,000 locations in counties across the state, according to a news release.
“While the grants are great news for TTA members, we know there is much more work to be done,” Knowles says. “Hopefully TTA members can apply and receive more funding through grants as it becomes available.”
There are still 422,000 Tennessee households without access to broadband internet.
“In communities across Tennessee, broadband is an essential service that will increase economic investment and growth to help businesses, families and individuals thrive,” Haslam says. “With the assistance of these grants, underserved communities will now have access to broadband that will benefit not only the communities themselves, but also the state as a whole. These grants are a step in the right direction for our state and will help Tennessee reach its full potential.”
In 2016, a study assessing broadband in Tennessee found that 13 percent of Tennessee residents do not have access to broadband at federally recognized standards.
The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act provides $45 million over three years in grants and tax credits for service providers to assist in making broadband available to unserved homes and businesses.