The Importance of Public-Private Partnerships in Deploying Fiber

Posted: March 22, 2021

Podcast focuses on ‘world-class connectivity’ with Chris Townson

Chris Townson, chief executive officer at DTC Communications, was a recent guest on the podcast “Lead Tennessee Radio,” a show produced by the Tennessee Broadband Association.

In this episode, Townson discussed the importance of public-private partnerships and how funding from three grants totaling almost $5.9 million allowed DTC Communications to build out broadband to about 4,000 premises that were previously unserved.

“Fiber doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen without deep pockets,” he said. “I am very thankful for these public-private partnerships. It makes the projects financially feasible and gets the service there much quicker than it could be otherwise.”

DTC Communications recently completed two projects with $3.2 million in funding from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development that built fiber to more than 2,500 premises. Townson said he hopes to begin construction by the end of this year on a USDA grant project that will provide fiber broadband to another 1,000 premises.

In these previously unserved areas, Townson said DTC Communications is seeing a take rate of about 65%.

“Before we could light up the fiber, we had 400 service orders in an area where we had built past 1,000 premises, and we continue to get orders every single day in these areas,” he said. “This just shows you how important this service is.”

Townson explained to TNBA Executive Director Levoy Knowles how DTC Communications didn’t begin deploying fiber in earnest until late 2016, with a goal to have fiber to 70% of its service area by the end of 2023. But DTC’s fiber project is under budget and two years ahead of schedule.

When DTC Communications finally decided to push forward with a broadband project, the cooperative was 100% dedicated to bringing fiber to the home, Townson said. He called it a multidecade strategy built with the future in mind.

“I think we have our finger on the pulse of what is going on in our own community but also what is going on win our industry and our nation,” Townson said. “We just don’t see that high-latency, low-speed networks is where we ought to be putting money.”

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 like DTC Communications are working hard to bring this life-changing technology to everyone in Tennessee,” said Knowles, 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 on the Tennessee Broadband Association website.

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