Podcast focuses on importance of broadband with Johnny McClanahan
Johnny McClanahan, CEO of North Central Telephone Cooperative, was a recent guest on the podcast “Lead Tennessee Radio.” The show is produced by the Tennessee Broadband Association.
In the episode, McClanahan discussed the importance of public-private partnerships for broadband expansion in rural Tennessee. Other topics of the interview included the greater demand for broadband and the benefits of a fiber network.
NCTC began its fiber project in 2009 and has installed more than 4,000 miles of fiber optic cable for their 19,000 members in several north central Tennessee counties.
NCTC recently received a $300,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development that NCTC will match to extend fiber into north Sumner County. McClanahan said the project should be complete by the end of 2020. That will leave only one exchange in NCTC’s service area that is not yet connected to fiber.
McClanahan said they have funded their fiber network with multiple federal and state grants including federal RUS funding, a ReConnect grant and ARRA stimulus funding.
“We have invested over $100 million including grants, loans and general funds over the past 12 years on fiber,” he said. “Without grants, the substantial cost of installing fiber makes it difficult to show a positive business case to provide this service.”
McClanahan said the COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for broadband, and that it is more important than ever to focus on a future-proof technology like fiber.
“Telcos like us are going to need funding to enable us to continue our build-out to provide state-of-the-art broadband networks,” he said. “We live in a rural area, but I believe our network is as good or better than what is offered in most urban areas.”
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.