United Communications shared updates around "its mission to connect Middle Tennessee" via Project UNITE, with three rural sections of Williamson County getting in on broadband access, per a release.
Created to address the crucial need for internet access in rural areas, United says Project UNITE works to provide connectivity to rural homes and businesses—specifically areas that have been historically overlooked by larger internet service providers.
Three Williamson County buildouts are nearing completion in fall and winter 2022, per the company, including Triune, Bethesda and Gosey Hill. The three communities combine for over 700 locations that will receive highspeed internet for the first time ever, thanks to a Federal ReConnect grant that will cover 50% of the cost of the project, with the balance funded by United.
United says its mission to help close the digital divide offers opportunities to learn and work remotely, connect with telehealth services, improve skillsets through online training and more.
“Project UNITE is closely aligned with USDA’s mission to increase rural prosperity through boosting economic opportunity in rural America. Together, we’re working to enrich our communities through access to reliable, high-speed internet service,” said William Bradford, President and CEO of United Communications.
In February 2020, former Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture would invest $3.3 million as part of the ReConnect Program to provide broadband service to residents and businesses in targeted rural areas of Middle Tennessee.
These funds, along with United Communication’s matching funds of $3.3 million, support the planning and construction of the region’s broadband infrastructure. The complete build will require approximately 138 miles of fiber to provide speeds of up to 100 Mbps download/20 Mbps upload, which can be scaled to 2 Gbps in the future.
United’s Project UNITE has also targeted over $100 million in expansion across eight Middle Tennessee counties as part of this year’s Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Emergency Broadband Fund grant program. All of United’s applications have the formal support of County Commissions and local leaders, including a combined financial commitment of over $11 million in supplemental local funding.
“It truly requires a partnership of state and local government, as well as key stakeholders, to accomplish projects as large and impactful as those included in our proposal,” said Bradford.
In addition to expansion, United says it continues to reinforce their community engagement in their core service area, from upgrading legacy equipment to supporting local events and sponsorships.
“We’re a local company that started right here in Middle Tennessee seventy-five years ago, so these are the communities that we grew up in and still live in today,” stated Josh Lynch, Chief Customer Officer at United. “As we celebrate our 75th Anniversary, we have the same mission today of offering communications in rural communities as we did when we began. Only our technology has changed.”