Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative Awarded More Than $700,000 In State Broadband Grants

Monday, March 18, 2019
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced today that BTC Communications, a subsidiary of Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative, has been awarded $701,120.16 under its Broadband Accessibility Grant program.

The cooperative will match these funds, investing a total of $1,402,240.32 to build a ?ber network in the Walden’s Ridge community in Rhea County.

“This was a highly competitive grant process, and we are thrilled to have been chosen from among the many companies who applied,” said Charles Boring, general manager of Bledsoe Telephone and BTC Communications.
“This grant will help us deliver broadband to an area of the state that desperately needs access.”

The project calls for building a ?ber network in the Walden’s Ridge community. Bledsoe Telephone applied last fall for what was the second round of Tennessee’s broadband grant program.

"Broadband has become a vital lifeline to our rural communities in Tennessee, including those in Rhea County," said Senator Ken Yager, who represents the grant area as part of his district. "I'm pleased to see the governor's grant program leveraging state dollars with investment and expertise from Bledsoe Telephone to make sure our residents don't get left behind.”

Many residents in the a?ected communities submitted testimony to support the grant application, citing how a lack of reliable broadband negatively impacts their quality of life in areas such as education, business opportunities, health care, family and safety.

"If you look at the numbers, a reliable high-speed broadband connection improves the quality of life for people in many di?erent areas," said Representative Ron Travis, who also represents the grant area. "The internet connections made possible by the governor's grant and by Bledsoe Telephone's hard work, will help this area economically, educationally and in the overall quality of life for decades to come."

When completed, the network will make high-speed broadband internet access available to 456 homes.

“This program is a strong example of how we can solve the challenge of rural broadband in this state,” said Levoy Knowles, executive director of the Tennessee Telecommunications Association. “This public/private partnership resulted in a major investment in rural broadband last year, and we’re proud to continue that partnership with today’s announcements.”

The TTA membership includes Bledsoe Telephone and other telecommunications cooperatives, along with independent commercial companies that provide broadband and phone service.

The Broadband Accessibility Grant program, started under former Governor Bill Haslam’s tenure, appears set to continue under the new administration, officials said. Governor Bill Lee’s proposed state budget increases the program by $5 million to a total of $20 million for the next round.

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