County’s rural areas set to receive broadband as part of $9M investment

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An announcement to bring broadband internet access to rural communities in Middle Tennessee was made on Thursday at Battle Mountain Farm off of Arno Allisona Road in College Grove. 

The venue was very fitting, since portions of College Grove will be some of the new service areas in Williamson County that will receive a portion of the $9 million investment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

The companies that were awarded a portion of the $9 million investment included: Ben Lomand Holdings Inc., North Central Communications Inc., Peoples Telephone Company, dba TEC and United Communications Inc.

Some of the high-speed broadband infrastructure projects announced will create or improve rural e-Connectivity for 3,744 rural households, 31 businesses, 41 farms and a critical community facility in Tennessee. This is one of many funding announcements in the first round of USDA’s ReConnect Pilot Program investments.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue attended the announcement Thursday and shared how USDA is expanding broadband access to rural communities across America. 

“Our core mission at USDA is to increase rural prosperity through boosting economic opportunity in rural America,” he said. “We know that rural communities need robust, modern infrastructure to thrive, and that includes having access to broadband e-Connectivity. Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is proud to partner with rural communities to deploy this critical infrastructure, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

The grants, loans and combination funds enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 1 Mbps upload, according to a USDA press release.

For Williamson County, the College Grove area will see broadband serviced by United Communications Inc. and in partnership with Middle Tennessee Electric. Its $3.3 million award grant from the program will be used to provide broadband service to residents and businesses in rural Wilson, Rutherford, Williamson and Maury counties. 

The funded service areas include 2,716 households, 13 pre-subscribed businesses, 12 pre-subscribed farms and a critical community facility spread over 48 square miles.

“We’re here today to say thank you for this award,” said William Bradford, president and CEO of United Communications Inc. “We’re going to spend the money very wisely and deliver broadband to as many residents as we can.”

After the announcement, Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson shared his excitement to see broadband expanded into new areas of the county. 

“To be able to offer broadband, 1 gig of service to many, many households throughout the area that for the most part don’t get any service is exciting,” he said. “This will help all of us, including the parents of school children with lesson assignments — you can now get those done — and all the way back up to the many farms this will serve.”

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