The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced that it is now accepting Broadband Accessibility Grant applications until Nov. 17.
Established by the recently enacted Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, this program aims to spread broadband access to more Tennesseans while promoting practices that increase deployment and encourage adoption, officials said. In total, $10 million is available in the first round of grants.
“Rural economic development is a top priority for TNECD and reliable broadband is a lynchpin of our efforts to encourage job growth in Tennessee’s rural communities,” TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe said. “About one-in-three residents in rural Tennessee do not have broadband access at recognized minimum standards. It is critical that we address this gap and ensure all Tennesseans have reliable internet access. Thanks to Governor Haslam’s leadership and the overwhelming support of the Tennessee General Assembly, TNECD will now be able to provide grants to help make broadband available to residents and businesses that currently go without it.”
The Broadband Accessibility Grants are meant to help offset the capital expenses of deploying broadband in currently unserved areas. Projects must serve locations without access to download speeds of at least ten megabits per second (10 Mbps) and upload speeds of at least one megabit per second (1 Mbps). Preference will be given to areas that are unlikely to receive broadband service without grant funding. Applicants must be authorized to provide retail broadband in the proposed service area.
Following the close of the application period, TNECD will hold a three-week online public comment period to receive additional input and information regarding submitted applications.
TNECD anticipates announcing grantees in January 2018 with projects underway in early in 2018.
More information on Broadband Accessibility Grants and TNECD’s broadband initiatives can be found here.