North Central Communications (NCTC) announced Friday it has been awarded an $850,000 grant to build fiber-to-the-premise to a portion of Trousdale County that cannot currently get any internet services. When the matching funds are applied, the total investment will consist of more than $1 million.
“It’s hard to believe that in 2016 there are parts of Tennessee that remain essentially a broadband desert where residents cannot get any kind of internet connection,” said NCTC CEO Nancy White. “As a community-based broadband provider we are happy this grant will allow us to eliminate one such area and bring all of the benefits of connectivity to those residents.”
At a recent White House Rural Forum convened at Pennsylvania State University, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced NCTC’s Connected Community grant as part of $32 million in loans and grants intended to promote economic development and provide access to broadband in more than 80 rural American communities.
“This funding will provide much-needed capital and bring cutting-edge technology to rural communities across the country,” Vilsack said. “Investments in our rural businesses and communities, coupled with extending high-speed broadband, have led to a resurgence of economic development, created jobs and improved the quality of life in rural America. While we have made great progress, our work to extend capital and technology to rural America is not done.”
NCTC will begin work on the project as soon as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service funding becomes available. When the project is finished, all those living in the buildout area will have access to internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second — faster speeds than are available in many metropolitan areas.
Today, areas of Trousdale County, including portions of Storytown Road, Shoot Road, Celsor Road, Middle Fork Road, and Gammons Lane have no access to internet service. County Mayor Carroll Carman, NCTC and Tri-County Electric, along with other county leaders, have looked at ways to bring service to these residents.
AT&T is the current communications provider, but the company reportedly has no plans to build fiber optics to these areas. NCTC applied for a Connected Community grant in 2015 and again in 2016 to build fiber optics to an area of Trousdale County that is completely unserved. “We are delighted to receive this grant and to be able to serve a small portion of Trousdale County,” said White. “Mayor Carman, the county officials and those who live in the area worked closely with us to prepare the application.”
Mayor Carman lamented the disadvantage faced by those in areas without access.“It is sad that a service that so many take for granted is not available to many of our citizens because we are in a rural area, and the designated provider for this area does not serve us,” he said. “We are excited to work with NCTC and thankful that they have heard our plea and have found a way to serve us when no one else would. Many people will now be able to work from home, take advantage of telemedicine opportunities, take online secondary education classes, or simply use the internet as the resource it was intended.” White said the cooperative will continue to work with partners to try to find additional grants or other funding to serve additional areas of Trousdale County. “The way we learn and work has changed dramatically over the past 10 years because of technology,” White said. “NCTC is building a world-class network in our service area, but it’ s not easy. Grants like this one help our investment reach farther and allow us to better leverage our network to benefit rural residents.”
About NCTC: North Central is a member-owned corporation dedicated to delivering advanced telecommunications technology to the people of Northern Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky, including Macon County, Tennessee and Allen County, Kentucky. NCTC also serves portions of Sumner, Trousdale, Smith and Clay counties in Tennessee.