DTC Receives $15.6 Million in Broadband Infrastructure Grant Funding


September 20, 2022
By: Dwayne Page

DeKalb Telephone Cooperative (dba) DTC Communications is receiving more than $15.6 million in grant funding for the expansion of Internet access serving parts of DeKalb and Cannon counties. The total is $15,627,524.71

The award was included in an announcement last week by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) Commissioner Stuart McWhorter that the state will fund $446,770,282 in grants for the expansion of Internet access in the State of Tennessee.

In total, the broadband infrastructure grants will provide broadband access to more than 150,000 unserved homes and businesses in 58 counties.

“People are moving to Tennessee from across the country in record numbers, and we have an obligation to prepare our state for continued growth,” Governor Bill Lee said. “Our strategic investments in broadband infrastructure will ensure our rural communities are connected and have every opportunity to thrive, and I thank the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group for effectively managing dollars to serve Tennesseans.”
According to the 2020 Broadband Deployment Report released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), one in six rural Tennesseans do not have access to broadband. Since 2018, TNECD has awarded nearly $120 million in broadband grants through state and federal funding to serve more than 140,000 Tennessee homes.

“To achieve economic growth and prosperity, it is imperative that communities in Tennessee have the right infrastructure,” McWhorter said. “With the $447 million in funding awarded, broadband access will be available to 36 grantees with 75 projects in 58 counties across Tennessee, and we look forward to seeing how these grants will drive each community’s success.”

The US Treasury Department previously defined “unserved areas” as not having access to a wireless connection capable of achieving minimum speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload. However, due to the increasing demands of the digital age, any connection that offers a download speed of less than 100 Mbps and an upload speed of 20 Mbps is now considered “unserved”. Given this new definition, app priority was still given to those with the slowest internet speeds, but all apps falling under this new definition of “unserved” were considered.

Funding for these grants comes from the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund – American Rescue Plan (TEBF-ARP), which uses a portion of federal funds from the state’s American rescue plan to address the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. and work to a strong recovery. . Tennessee’s Fiscal Stimulus Accountability Group (FSAG) has committed $500 million in broadband funding through this program, including more than $446 million for infrastructure and nearly $50 million for broadband adoption. broadband and digital literacy efforts.

“Our world is increasingly interconnected. In order for the people of Tennessee to thrive in this interconnected world, high-speed internet must be accessible,” said Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R – Oak Ridge). “These grants will dramatically expand our broadband footprint in Tennessee, giving our citizens the tools to access information, educate themselves, and do business like never before. I am grateful to Governor Lee and Commissioner McWhorter as well as Commissioner Eley and my legislative colleagues at the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group for directing these dollars to benefit our citizens and our state.

“Tennessee has experienced tremendous growth in all regions of our state over the past decade. With this significant investment in our broadband infrastructure, more citizens will have the ability to access high-speed broadband services at work, home and school,” said President Cameron Sexton ( R-Crossville). “I appreciate Governor Lee, Lieutenant Governor McNally, Commissioner McWhorter, Commissioner Eley and members of the Fiscal Stimulus Accountability Group for their effective and committed partnership as we all continue to work together to increase service reliability in the whole state.

“Broadband is essential to the growth and prosperity of our rural communities,” said Sen. Bo Watson (R – Hixson).

“Because of our prudent approach to fiscal management, we have the ability to invest in important projects like broadband expansion that will fuel future economic growth. I am confident that this investment will yield excellent returns for our state and its citizens. »

“In today’s world, reliable broadband is as essential as water and electricity,” said Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R – Signal Mountain). “This expansion will be transformative for Tennessee families and businesses by removing barriers to commerce, health care and educational opportunities, and other necessities of modern life.”

For this round of funding, TNECD received 218 applications requesting over $1.2 billion.

The final grants will be distributed among 75 applications submitted by 36 recipients, all of whom will provide broadband to various unserved areas of Tennessee. These beneficiaries are a range of Internet service providers, including electric and telephone cooperatives, local municipalities, private providers and cable companies. These grant recipients were chosen based on rigorous criteria, which included the need of the grant area, the ability to carry out the project, and strong community support.

Recipients will provide approximately $331 million in matching funds to complete these projects for a combined investment of $778 million in new broadband infrastructure projects across the state. These projects must be completed within three years.

This grant is the latest round of funding to help DTC in its efforts to become a world-class fiber broadband provider.

In his remarks at Saturday’s annual meeting, Chris Townson, CEO of DTC Communications, explained how far DTC has come in recent years to improve the lives of the people and communities it serves through better broadband and technologies.

If you’ve been with me for a very long time, you’ve probably heard me say, “At DTC, we do everything we do because people matter. I often say this because it is true. In fact, one of DTC’s core values ​​is People First. It’s in our DNA and has been since the creation of the cooperative.

2021 was one of the most challenging years in the co-op’s history as we worked to benefit our members and the communities we serve. We had hoped that by closing the chapter on 2020, our communities and our business would emerge from the pandemic and things would return to normal. When it didn’t happen exactly as planned, we yearned for a new normal. We then discovered that there is probably no new normal; there’s just the next normal. And moving from one normality to another, we’ve focused even more on putting people first.

In the telecommunications industry, we are no strangers to challenges. Technological progress and an ever-increasing demand for bandwidth require combining a forward-thinking posture with responsiveness and flexibility. In the face of supply chain delays, rising costs, and an exponential increase in customer demand, DTC delivered to its members effectively and efficiently. The following accomplishments represent only a portion of DTC’s total accomplishments on behalf of its members in 2021.

• DTC has built over 350 miles of backbone fiber optic network
• We passed 3,500 additional premises with fiber
• Connected over 5,000 existing and new members and customers to the fiber network
• We experienced a year-over-year increase in bandwidth demand of over 30%
• DTC provided infrastructure for local county school systems to have ubiquitous broadband connectivity
• We have invested in local classrooms, supporting student advancement in video production
• We advanced work on a USDA Reconnect grant, bringing in additional dollars to benefit co-op members
• We closed about ¾ of the co-op’s fiber overlay project
• All profits were reinvested in the cooperative to ensure that members receive advanced services as soon as possible and at a reasonable price

Today, we are working harder than ever to contain costs, reduce the impacts of supply chain issues, and connect our neighbors, friends, and new residents in the region to a world-class network that offers limitless opportunities. We have been helped in this process by successfully winning:

• 2018 TNECD Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act Grant
• TNECD Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund Grant 2020
• USDA ReConnect Program Grant 2020
• 2021 FCC RDOF Auction 904 Funding Allocation
• TNECD Emergency Broadband Fund 2022 – ARP Grant
• Four – 2022 ARP Grants from the counties we serve

At its core, our mission is to provide broadband and technology solutions that improve the lives of our members and the communities we serve. We strive to do what we say, take care of people, partner with our communities, and build a network that will serve our members today and for decades to come. We hope you will continue to find us trustworthy, friendly, forward-looking, committed and a pleasure to deal with.

This is an exciting time for DTC as we head into the end of 2022. The map depicted in the annual report and on site panels shows past, present and future fiber build zones. As you can see, we continue to work diligently to complete the fiber network. We connect new members and customers daily, and our customer satisfaction rate continues to increase.

Rest assured that your Board of Directors, company leadership and employees are working to put you first, and we appreciate your allowing us to serve you in this capacity. Thanks for being a member of DTC Communications!


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