Access to fiber internet could connect underserved faster than anticipated
Broadband in Tennessee is a big deal and just got even bigger.
As many of you recently heard, the Tennessee Financial Stimulus Accountability Group, which determines the use of Tennessee’s stimulus funds, designated $500 million of its American Rescue Plan Fiscal Recovery Funds for broadband projects. This is in addition to the $100 million appropriated by the state this year.
The competition for funding will be fierce. The exact rules and regulations for how the money can be spent are evolving. As of now, the cap on a single project, which was previously $2 million, has been removed. The new split has not yet been fully determined. It’s anticipated that the provider split will decrease and can be as low as 75/25. The current split on a Tennessee Economic & Community Development process is 50/50, meaning 50% contributions from the state and 50% contributions from a provider. Discussions are ongoing at this time.
The appropriation of this money will fast-track Tennessee to bridge the digital divide and offer broadband services to people who likely wouldn’t get these faster internet services for many years.
The interest in broadband in Tennessee has never been higher, and there probably won’t be an opportunity of this magnitude again in our lifetime. We’re thankful to Governor Bill Lee, our state legislators, and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group for having the foresight to put money into broadband and close the gap between urban and rural Tennesseans.
Don’t Forget to Register for the KTA/TNBA Fall Conference
If registrations thus far are any indication, the KTA/TNBA Fall Conference is shaping up to be another well-attended event.
We’re seeing record registration numbers, and we only have so many hotel rooms, vendor locations, and sponsorship opportunities. Sign up now to attend, October 12 to 15 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We’ll share more about speakers and programs soon.