In an emergency effort to improve broadband service for residents, Tennessee has allocated $61 million to improve service during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing grants to service providers. According to Telecompetitor, the governor’s office and the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund announced the grants this week.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has only further elevated the importance of access to reliable, affordable broadband internet to facilitate telemedicine, distance learning, and telecommuting,” Governor Lee said.
The grants are funded through the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund allotment from the federal government, reported Telecompetitor, and distributed through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD). The state’s General Assembly has already committed $60 million to broadband improvements with this week’s announcement doubling funding.
Telecompetitor reported that the ECD has received 84 grant applications, totaling $89.1 million, and has approved 62 projects amassing $61.1 million. According to the press release, the applications denied were due to “factors including project feasibility, applicant experience, and public comments received from existing broadband Providers.”
For those denied, the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Grant Program is another option, with $15 million in available funding. These projects must be COVID-19 related, reported Telecompetitor.