TNBA members receive grants totaling $11 million for broadband expansion

Posted: April 7, 2020

State grants to extend service to almost 12,700 households and businesses

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development awarded almost $11 million to seven members of the Tennessee Broadband Association for broadband expansion. The TNBA member companies will match the funding and extend broadband in nine rural Tennessee counties. Members of the Tennessee Broadband Association received seven of the 17 grants, representing over half of the $19.7 million awarded by the state. The projects funded will bring broadband access to thousands of unserved homes and businesses in nine counties — including some counties high on the state’s list for most economically vulnerable populations.

Seven of the state’s cooperative and independent broadband companies demonstrated their continued leadership in connecting rural Tennessee recently, earning a majority of the grants awarded by the Department of Economic and Community Development through the Broadband Accessibility Grant program.

“The state continued its commitment to improve broadband access across rural Tennessee,” said Levoy Knowles, executive director of the TNBA. “We are very proud of this announcement. These grants will go a long way toward our goal of providing everyone in Tennessee with access to high-speed internet.”

TNBA member companies receiving grants:

  • Ben Lomand Connect: $2 million to serve Cumberland County
  • BTC Fiber: $1.5 million to serve Bledsoe County
  • PVECFiber and Scott County Telephone Cooperative: $1.908 million to serve Union County
  • TEC-West Tennessee Telephone: $826,677 to serve Carroll County
  • Twin Lakes: $1.406 million to serve Overton and Fentress counties
  • United Communications: $1.331 million to serve Rutherford and Williamson counties
  • WK&T Telecommunications Cooperative: $2 million to serve Weakley County

The recipients will match these grants with millions of dollars locally to complete the broadband projects.

Many of the companies that comprise the TNBA have served their communities for 60 or more years. In addition to building fiber networks in their incumbent territories, many have extended service to neighboring communities in an effort to bring broadband service to more rural Tennesseans.

“Access to high-speed internet is vital for improvements in economic development, health care, education and so much more,” Knowles says. “These grant announcements are great news for our members and will go a long way to helping them provide this life-changing technology for the people and regions they serve.”

TNECD has awarded over $44 million in broadband grants since 2018.