JOHNSON CITY – BrightRidge Broadband will offer free community Wi-Fi at the grounds of 16 Washington County schools, six community centers, three Johnson City schools and three Sullivan County schools under $2.47 million in Tennessee Emergency Broadband Grants awarded by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
BrightRidge Broadband will match the grant with $617,828 in local funds for a total project cost of $3,089,143.
The grants are funded through the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund allotment from the federal government and distributed through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, with all projects required to be online by mid-December under the grant award.
“This is a huge win for BrightRidge customers who are doing all they can to keep their children’s school work up to speed and their jobs secure, but the pandemic has demonstrated that high-speed broadband is essential for our customers to succeed in their efforts,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said Tuesday. “We would like to thank our regional legislative delegation for their strong support of the application, and certainly, Governor Bill Lee and the Department of Economic and Community Development, for trusting BrightRidge to provide a major broadband boost to our region.”
According to the Governor Lee administration, TECD received 84 applications, funding 62 projects representing at $61.1 million in broadband expansion. Pursuant to federal guidelines, these projects are limited to those that would enhance access to individuals and families affected during the COVID-19 pandemic by the lack of broadband in their area.
In all, BrightRidge was awarded grants for six projects. Under the awards, BrightRidge will provide free community Wi-Fi at 1 Gb capacity for at least 12 months, re-evaluating community conditions at that time. In addition, BrightRidge will be extending fiber to the premise broadband to the unserved Bowmantown community in western Washington County as well as unserved residents in the Key Mills/Pleasant Valley community.
“These awards allow us to serve areas that would otherwise not be viable for years to come,” BrightRidge Broadband Officer Stacy Evans said. “We are pleased to be able to move forward providing service levels that are second to none in the country on a very affordable basis, and placing BrightRidge customers at the front of the line when it comes to fast, reliable broadband services.”