Tennessee cooperatives and utilities came out at the top of the heap in the latest round of awards from the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund, netting nearly half of all money awarded for the expansion of more affordable broadband statewide.
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) awarded $446.8 million to 36 applicants, who are now tasked with deploying improved broadband service to 150,000 unserved homes and businesses across 58 Tennessee counties. All told, TNECD said that 218 applicants applied for a total of $1.2 billion in broadband funding.
Of the $446.8 million in awards, utilities and cooperatives walked away with $204.4 million.
Major awards to utilities included Lexington Electric System ($27.5 million), Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative ($17.7 million), Greeneville Energy Authority ($8.2 million), Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) ($15.2 million), Board of Public Utilities of the City of Fayetteville ($23.9 million), and Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation ($17.5 million).
“This is great news for our community,” Gabriel J. Bolas, President & CEO of KUB, said in a statement provided to ILSR. “We have known for some time that there is a need for reliable internet in Union, Grainger, Sevier, and Jefferson Counties, and this announcement proves there is a broad and concerted commitment to address their needs soon.”
Grants for Regional Telecom Giants Part of the Mix
Regional telecom giants and local monopolies were also well represented by the state’s latest broadband funding round.
Though it had applied for more than $35 million in funding, Charter Communications was awarded $20.4 million to reach parts of six counties. Comcast received $2.2 million to improve connectivity in Anderson, Hamilton and Knox counties.
TDS Telecom, which goes by the brand name Tellico Telephone Company in Tennessee,...Read more