Nashville, Tenn. – State Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) made the following statement regarding the announcement that six major grants totaling more than $4.1 million combined have been awarded in Roane, Rhea and Campbell Counties in Senate District 12 to expand broadband services. The grants will result in expansion of services to over 1,321 homes or businesses in these counties.
“I am delighted these funds have been awarded to expand broadband to our rural communities,” said Sen. Yager. “We have been working very hard to expand services in these areas for the last several years and this is a huge help to get more homes and businesses connected.”
“Broadband is becoming increasingly important to the way students are educated, medical services are provided, government services are delivered, and business is conducted,” he added. “This is especially true during these challenging times with COVID-19.”
“In addition, broadband is essential as we work to create high quality jobs for our citizens. These funds are a huge help as we continue our efforts to expand services to more of our communities.”
The projects for the 12 senatorial district are:
- Comcast Campbell County – Approximately $220,000 grant for 146 new homes
- Comcast Roane County – Approximately $868,000 grant for 391 new homes
- Spring City Cable, Pittman – Approximately $16,000 grant for 12 new homes
- Spring City Cable, Middle Rhea – Approximately $29,000 grant for 27 new homes
- Spring City Cable, Grandview – Approximately $95,000 grant for 85 new homes
- Volunteer Energy Cooperative, Ten Mile and South Roane – Approximately $2.88 million grant for 660 new home and businesses
These grants are part of funds to be released throughout the state.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group today announced $61 million will be awarded in Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund grants to improve access to broadband internet across the state. The grants are funded through the State’s Coronavirus Relief Fund allotment from the federal government and distributed through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has only further elevated the importance of access to reliable, affordable broadband internet to facilitate telemedicine, distance learning, and telecommuting,” said Gov. Lee. “I thank the members of our Financial Stimulus Accountability Group and the Department of Economic and Community Development for their work in distributing these funds to shovel-ready projects that will directly benefit Tennesseans.”
“The emergence of COVID-19 greatly accelerated the need for widespread access to broadband. As all of us adjust to the new normal of social distance, technology becomes even more critical to study, work and socialize,” said Lt. Gov. Randy McNally. “These dollars will allow for implementation of greatly needed projects crucial to bringing us together virtually as we strive to stay apart physically.”
“This $61 million investment in additional broadband grants, in conjunction with the $60 million the General Assembly has already appropriated, will continue to increase access to high speed internet services across Tennessee. Our families, schools, businesses, and health care communities will benefit from this enhanced broadband infrastructure,” said House Speaker Cameron Sexton. “I appreciate Gov. Lee, Lt. Gov. McNally, our Accountability Group members and the General Assembly for their ongoing efforts to help strengthen Tennessee’s infrastructure; we will continue working together to identify and create solutions that address both our immediate and our emerging, long-term needs.”
ECD received 84 applications for $89.1 million in funding. Following review and a public comment period, 62 projects representing $61.1 million will be funded. The remaining $28 million in projects were denied due to a number of factors including project feasibility, applicant experience, and public comments received from existing broadband providers. Unfunded applicants will be invited to submit an application for the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Grant Program, funded at $15 million this year, where applicants are given significantly more time to complete project builds.
Pursuant to federal guidelines, these projects are limited to those that would enhance access to individuals and families affected during the COVID-19 pandemic by the lack of broadband access in their area. Eligible entities included those authorized to provide broadband services in Tennessee, and eligible areas were limited to those unserved or underserved locations lacking all equipment necessary to provide a broadband connection capable of supporting telemedicine, distance learning, and telecommuting.