Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Comm-unity Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe have announced Ben Lomand Connect’s subsidiaries, Ben Lomand Communications and Volunteer First Services, as recipients of over $2.1 million in grants for underserved areas of Cumberland, Coffee, and Warren counties.
These are matching grants with Ben Lomand contributing an additional $2.1 million for a total investment of over $4.2 million in all three counties.
The money will expand fiber networks to 1,147 locations in the three counties.
One grant area is located in northwestern Cumberland County and includes 1,125 locations, 1,042 residences and 83 businesses.
The second grant area is in northeastern Coffee County and southwestern Warren County and includes 22 locations, 12 residences and 10 businesses. It runs along State Highway 55 from Morrison into Coffee County. Funding will be available in April of 2021, and infrastructure will be built with projected completions of both areas in 2023.
Greg Smartt, general manager and CEO for Ben Lomand Connect, said, “Ben Lomand Connect is honored to receive these grant awards. It is the fifth grant we have received for Cumberland County and the fourth for Coffee County. This speaks to the tremendous need for high-speed connections in these areas and throughout the state. These grants will fill a large gap where fiber service is not available. Access to high-speed broadband will provide economic, healthcare, public safety, and educational opportunities that residents currently do not have access to and contribute to a better quality of life. ”
A total of $14.9 million in broadband accessibility grants were awarded in 15 rural counties that will expand service to support 17,800 unserved Tennesseans in nearly 7,120 households and businesses.
Ben Lomand Connect was incorporated on Oct. 2, 1952 to provide local telephone service to rural Middle Tennessee. Ben Lomand began its diversification in 1993 by forming BLC, a wholly owned long-distance subsidiary. It was the first competitive local exchange carrier in the state of Tennessee.
Combined, the two have over 25,000 access lines covering 3,200 square miles of territory. Ben Lomand Connect also offers many other services, including broadband, video, security, hosted IP solutions, and managed IT services.