WK&T Awarded Grant to Provide Broadband to Weakley County

NASHVILLE (April 6) — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced $19.7 million in broadband accessibility grants that will expand service to support 31,000 unserved Tennesseans in nearly 12,700 households and businesses.
Gov. Lee said, “One of my top priorities is ensuring the success of rural Tennessee. With the assistance of these grants, communities across 21 counties will now have access to broadband that will aid in that success. I applaud the efforts of these 17 broadband providers as they play a fundamental role in our efforts to boost rural communities throughout Tennessee.”
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced late last week WK&T was awarded $2 million under its Broadband Accessibility Grant program. The cooperative and Weakley County will match those funds, making the grand total invested approximately $6 million.
“WK&T is excited to partner with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and Weakley County to bring our 100 percent unmatched fiber internet network to more people in the area,” says Trevor Bonnstetter, WK&T CEO. “We strongly believe that access to fast and reliable fiber internet has the power to give residents and business owners a better quality of life and more opportunities.”
The project calls for building a fiber network in the east-central portion of Weakley County near Sharon, with Martin to the north and Dresden to the east. Major state highways passing through include Highway 54, Highway 43, Highway 89, Mt. Vernon Road, 3 Point Road and Highway 22.
The expansion involves 137 miles of fiber along mostly rural highway.
“During these challenging times, now more than ever, when citizens are being asked to learn, work, and stay at home, it is vitally important that we as community leaders are striving to provide the best quality of life for our residents,” says Weakley County Mayor Jake Bynum. “Citizens are now demanding that they have information and media readily available to them at their businesses and homes.”
When completed, the network will make high-speed broadband access available to approximately 1,383 underserved customers, opening up the possibilities for better education, telemedicine and economic development.
“This award will enhance the attractiveness of Weakley County for the recruitment of industry, tourism, and students choosing to attend the University of Tennessee Martin,” says State Sen. John Stevens. “As we have seen in past years, access to rural broadband is essential to an industry’s success and opens up opportunities for new business to drive a local economy,” says State Rep. Andy Holt.
The grants also include $703,518 to Gibson Electric Membership Corporation serving parts of Obion County; and $826,677 to TEC serving parts of the Buena Vista and McLemoresville communities in Carroll County.
The Broadband Accessibility Grant program is designed to offset the capital expenses in the deployment of broadband in unserved areas. Funds are targeted to areas that are unlikely to receive broadband service without grant funding.
To stay up to date as fiber construction progresses, visit www.mywkt.net.

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