NASHVILLE (March 5) — On Friday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced Weakley County is one of 13 rural Tennessee counties awarded a portion of $14.9 million in broadband accessibility grants. The grants will expand service to support 17,800 unserved Tennesseans in 7,120 homes and businesses.
Weakley County will receive $2 million in grant funding to expand broadband service.
In his recent State of the State address, Gov. Lee proposed a record investment of $200 million to achieve a goal of every Tennessean having access to high-speed broadband. This proposal, combined with significant private sector investment, will help improve educational outcomes, expand access to health care, increase e-commerce and support small businesses in rural communities across the state.
This is the fourth round of the Broadband Accessibility Grant program, which remains highly competitive.
The 13 grant recipients demonstrated a high need for grant funding, as well as the ability to implement and sustain the projects long-term with strong community support.
Recipients will provide matching funds to complete the projects, for a combined investment of $36 million across the state. Infrastructure should be built out within two years of receiving the grant funds.
“Every Tennessean should have access to the same high-speed broadband, no matter what zip code they live in,” said Gov. Lee. “Our continued investment in internet connectivity will help level the playing field for rural communities across our state, and I thank these 13 providers for partnering with us to help nearly 18,000 more Tennesseans get connected.”
According to the FCC’s 2020 Broadband Deployment Report, one in six rural Tennesseans lack access to broadband.
“As many of us have transitioned to a lifestyle of working, telecommuting and learning from home, we have seen how much we rely on broadband, and those who do not have access are placed at a significant disadvantage,” Rolfe said. “With the support of Governor Lee and the General Assembly, we will be able to connect more than 7,000 previously unserved homes and businesses to broadband service, positioning rural Tennessee for future success.”
Since 2018, TNECD has awarded nearly $60 million in grants through the Broadband Accessibility Grant Program to serve more than 33,000 homes and businesses, and over 83,000 Tennesseans.