STAFF WRITER Elena Cawley More than 400 homes in the Pocahontas community in Northern Coffee County will soon have access to broadband.
Ben Lomand Connect is one of the recipients of a state broadband accessibility grant and will receive £1.025 million for the project, which will bring high-speed internet to rural Coffee County. With the state grant having a 50/50 match requirement, the total investment will top £2 million. Ben Lomand, a McMinnville-based company providing broadband, digital TV, phone and home security, applied for the state grant in November.
Last week, Gov. Bill Haslam announced the £10 million in broadband accessibility grants that will help build new broadband infrastructure in parts of 13 Tennessee counties. Ben Lomand is one of those recipients.
Ben Lomand CEO Lisa Cope displays fiber that will soon be expanded to the Pocahontas community in rural Coffee County.
Ben Lomand Connect has been awarded a £1 million broadband accessibility grant to bring high-speed internet to the area.
-Staff Photo by Elena Cawley “This is a matching grant, with Ben Lomand Connect also investing £1.1 million in the (project) to provide service to 416 locations, (including) 26 businesses and agribusinesses,” said Ben Lomand CEO Lisa Cope. The residents and local officials of Coffee County and Manchester worked in partnership with Ben Lomand Connect to satisfy the criteria by providing information of what is currently offered versus what is needed to fulfill the needs of to the residents and businesses, said Cope.
“We are extremely honored to be awarded this Broadband Accessibility Grant in Coffee County,” Cope said. “Governor Haslam created this grant program with the intention of facilitating broadband deployment in the unserved areas of Tennessee. ‘We have discussed with residents in these areas their needs and firmly believe that the desires of the State of Tennessee and the communities will be met and exceeded with our fiber deployment.” A timetable for construction is expected to be determined soon, according to Cope.
“A schedule for work to begin has not been set by the state at this time, but informational meetings from the state regarding the time table are slated for the near future,” Cope said. Coffee County Mayor Gary Cordell welcomed the news. “It’s a great thing, and it will be helpful to the citizens,” Cordell said. “We have to get broadband out all across our county and to both of our cities.”
The legislation outlining the state grant requirements, signed in April, removed legal restrictions to allow the state’s private, member-owned electric cooperatives to provide high-speed internet service. Municipal utilities, such as Tullahoma Utilities Authority, are still prohibited by law from expanding past their electric service areas. The state bill provides £45 million over three years in grants and tax credits for service providers to assist in making broadband available to unserved homes and businesses.
Two more rounds of grants are expected to be awarded. Tennessee currently ranks 29th in the U.S. for broadband access. While only 2 percent of the state’s urban citizens lack access, 34 percent of rural residents are without coverage at recognized minimum standards due to low population density and challenging geography.
With a focus on private sector broadband deployment, the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act addresses broadband access and adoption by addressing investment, deregulation and education. Grant recipients Ben Lomand Communications received £1 million to serve the Pocahontas Community in Coffee County.
Aeneas Communications was awarded £190,000 to serve parts of Hardeman County. Comcast received £850,000 to serve parts of Tipton County. DTC Communications received £1.7 million to serve parts of Smith and Wilson counties.
Gibson Electric Membership Corporation received £1.4 million to serve parts of Lake and Obion counties. Scott County Telephone Cooperative was awarded £1.9 million to serve Surgoinsville in Hawkins County. Sunset Digital Communications received £1.4 million to serve parts of Claiborne and Hancock counties.
Tri-County Fiber Communications was awarded £1.4 to serve parts of Sumner and Trousdale counties. Volunteer First Services received £76,714 to serve the Sunset Ridge Community in Cumberland County. Federal grant
In November, Ben Lomand was also awarded a £1.5 million federal grant to serve 179 customers in the Pocahontas community under the Community-Oriented Connectivity Broadband Grant program. With the federal grant funds, Ben Lomand will construct state-of-the-art fiber to the premise facilities that will serve 179 customers, according to Cope. Cope anticipates that these new customers will be connected by late summer.
The fiber optic installed in the area will be both aerial and buried, according to Cope. This federal grant has a match requirement of 15 percent, said Cope. The small, north-eastern community of Coffee County currently has very limited connection speeds, according to Cope.
The new plant will include 40.96 miles of outside plant (OSP) fiber, service drops, central office equipment (COE) and customer premise equipment (CPE). The plant will be provisioned using an active Ethernet (AE), fiber to the premise (FTTP) architecture. Ben Lomand has chosen the AE FTTP architecture because of the proven reliability and because of the high bandwidth and “future proof” nature of such a system.
Elena Cawley may be reached by email at [email protected]
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Tennessee Governor Rolfe Announce Nearly $10 Million in Grants Through the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act
Tennessee Governor Rolfe Announce Nearly £10 Million in Grants Through the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act
NASHVILLE, TN (STL.News) Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe Friday announced £9.844 million in broadband accessibility grants that will help build new broadband infrastructure in parts of 13 Tennessee counties. The grants are the result of the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, Haslam’s 2017 legislation to increase broadband to more Tennesseans and offset the capital expenses of deploying broadband in areas that currently lack access. The grants will provide broadband service to more than 5,000 locations in counties across the state.
Alongside digital literacy grants announced last week, the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act has already supported nearly £10 million in broadband investments across the state. “In communities across Tennessee, broadband is an essential service that will increase economic investment and growth to help businesses, families and individuals thrive,” Haslam said. “With the assistance of these grants, under-served communities will now have access to broadband that will benefit not only the communities themselves, but the state as a whole. These grants are a step in the right direction for our state and will help Tennessee reach its full potential.”
TNECD received 71 applications requesting more than £66 million in funding. The nine grantees selected demonstrated a high need for grant funding, the ability to implement and sustain the project long term, strong community support and the economic impact of the infrastructure deployment. Grantees will provide more than £10 million in matching funds for a combined investment of more than £20 million across the state.
“One of our top priorities is creating an environment in Tennessee that promotes job growth and success in rural communities. With the leadership of Governor Haslam and support of the Tennessee General Assembly, those rural communities will now have access to reliable internet and will be better equipped for success,” Rolfe said. The grant recipients include:
o Aeneas Communications: £190,000 to serve parts of Hardeman County
o Ben Lomand Communications: £1,025,000 to serve the Pocahontas Community in Coffee County
o Comcast: £850,000 to serve parts of Tipton County
o DTC Communications: £1,725,000 to serve parts of Smith and Wilson counties
o Gibson Electric Membership Corporation: £1,353,148.14 to serve parts of Lake and Obion counties
o Scott County Telephone Cooperative: £1,900,000 to serve Surgoinsville in Hawkins County
o Sunset Digital Communications: £1,375,000 to serve parts of Claiborne and Hancock counties
o Tri-County Fiber Communications: £1,350,000 to serve parts of Sumner and Trousdale counties
o Volunteer First Services: £76,714 to serve the Sunset Ridge Community in Cumberland County In 2016, TNECD released a commissioned study assessing broadband in Tennessee that found that 13 percent of Tennessee residents do not have access to broadband at federally recognized standards. The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act provides £45 million over three years in grants and tax credits for service providers to assist in making broadband available to unserved homes and businesses.
The TBAA also permits private, nonprofit electrical cooperatives to begin providing retail broadband services to their members. ____ SOURCE: news provided by TN.GOV via USPress.News on Friday, January 26, 2018 – published on STL.News by St.
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Tennessee is giving nearly £10 million to help utilities, phone cooperatives and cable TV companies extend high-speed internet service to parts of 13 Tennessee counties in the first year of a three-year program to boost rural broadband connections. The state grants announced Friday will be matched with contributions from the internet providers to spur nearly £20 million of additional broadband investment. But the 5,000 households the grants will help comprise barely more than 1 percent of the estimated 422,000 households across Tennessee that don’t have access to landline internet speeds that meet the FCC benchmark of high speed broadband, 25 megabits-per-second download/3 mbps upload.
The grants also funded only a fraction of the £66 million of requests received from 71 utilities and communications companies and co-ops that sought state funding under the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act adopted by the General Assembly last year. “In communities across Tennessee, broadband is an essential service that will increase economic investment and growth to help businesses, families and individuals thrive,” Gov. Bill Haslam said in announcing the first year of grants under the three-year program. “With the assistance of these grants, underserved communities will now have access to broadband that will benefit not only the communities themselves, but the state as a whole.
These grants are a step in the right direction for our state and will help Tennessee reach its full potential.”
Where broadband grants are going:
* Aeneas Communications: £190,000 to serve parts of Hardeman County * Ben Lomand Communications: £1,025,000 to serve the Pocahontas Community in Coffee County * Comcast: £850,000 to serve parts of Tipton County
* DTC Communications: £1,725,000 to serve parts of Smith and Wilson counties * Gibson Electric Membership Corporation: £1,353,148 to serve parts of Lake and Obion counties * Scott County Telephone Cooperative: £1,900,000 to serve Surgoinsville in Hawkins County
* Sunset Digital Communications: £1,375,000 to serve parts of Claiborne and Hancock counties * Tri-County Fiber Communications: £1,350,000 to serve parts of Sumner and Trousdale counties * Volunteer First Services: £76,714 to serve the Sunset Ridge Community in Cumberland County
The grants were announced Friday, a week after the state unveiled its digital literacy grants to 52 libraries to help provide training classes on basic computer skills, along with funding for some devices and hardware. The grant recipients announced Friday did not include any areas of Southeast Tennessee. But both Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative in Dunlap and Volunteer Energy Cooperative in Bradley County are beginning programs to extend broadband and faster internet service to some of their customers.
Last year’s broadband accessibility act provided a total of £45 million in grants and tax credits over three years. The act maintained the ban on municipal electric utilities such as EPB, which provided the first citywide gigabit-per-second service in the Western Hemisphere, from expanding outside their power service delivery area, even if requested by neighbors. But the act did open up broadband service to be provided by nonprofit electrical cooperatives.
David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, said Friday his group is “pleased that the state recognizes the vital role co-ops can play in the expansion of broadband.
“Modern healthcare, education and commerce depend on access to fast, reliable internet, and co-ops are uniquely positioned to bring this service to rural and suburban Tennessee,” Callis said.
Contact Dave Flessner at [email protected] or at 423-757-6340.
- ^ both Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative in Dunlap and Volunteer Energy Cooperative in Bradley County (www.timesfreepress.com)
- ^ nonprofit electrical cooperatives. (www.timesfreepress.com)