Partnerships Are Critical For Rural Broadband Expansion
Jason Shelton, general manager of Loretto Telecom, was a recent guest on the podcast “Lead Tennessee Radio.” The show is produced by the Tennessee Broadband Association.
In the podcast interview with TNBA Executive Director Levoy Knowles, Shelton discussed funding for rural broadband expansion in Tennessee and the importance of public-private partnerships to connect rural America with future-proof technology.
“In the rural-most parts of the county, it is crazy how much it costs to provide broadband for those areas,” Shelton said. “Without public-private partnerships, frankly it’s not going to happen.”
Loretto Telecom, based in Loretto, Tenn., recently received a $1.05 million Broadband Accessibility Grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to extend broadband into the St. Joe area of Lawrence County. With matching funds, Loretto Telecom is investing more than $2 million into the project.
Shelton said Loretto Telecom divided the project into eight zones. They have already completed three zones and have begun connecting customers to fiber.
“Our intention is to have most, if not all, of the broadband grant construction completed before we head into the fourth quarter of the year,” he said.
Shelton also discussed Loretto’s focus to extend fiber throughout Lawrence County.
“That’s all we believe in,“ he said. “It is a future-proof network. Anything else is just a Band-Aid.”
The “Lead Tennessee Radio” podcast is an opportunity to discuss issues facing Tennessee with state leaders and lawmakers. Past episodes feature House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville; Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge; House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland; Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin; and many more.
“The cooperative and independent telecommunications companies who comprise the TNBA are working hard to ensure that everyone in rural Tennessee has access to this life-changing technology,” said Levoy Knowles, TNBA executive director and host of the show. “This podcast is a great opportunity to have conversations with state and industry leaders who are on the front lines working for a connected Tennessee.”
“Lead Tennessee Radio” can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Play, as well as tennesseebroadband.com.