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Chris Jones, president and CEO of Middle Tennessee Electric, William Bradford, president and CEO of United Communications, and Commissioner Bob Rolfe of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, will be sharing lunch on Friday at the Peytonsville Volunteer Fire Department during “A special event regarding the future of broadband in Middle Tennessee.”

According to an invitation sent out Wednesday by Pierce Public Relations of Nashville, “Middle Tennessee Electric, the state’s largest electric cooperative, and United Communications, Middle Tennessee’s leading provider of advanced communications services, to make a special broadband announcement.on Friday, August 24th.”

Electric cooperatives were restricted from providing retail broadband services before the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act was passed in 2017.

The act provides $45 million over three years through grants and tax credits that focus on the state’s unserved and underserved areas, which according to Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development were about 34 percent of the state.

In addition to allowing electrical cooperatives to provide broadband, the act establishes the “Broadband Accessibility Grant Program,” providing $30 million over a three-year period ($10 million per year) to broadband providers to encourage deployment to unserved homes and businesses, and tax credits of $5 million per year for three years for private broadband service providers who build in Tennessee’s most economically challenged counties.

The act also provides for grants to libraries in those areas to provide digital literacy training to residents.

Middle Tennessee Electric, with headquarters in Murfreesboro, is the largest co-op in the state and the sixth largest electrical distribution cooperative in the country. It distributes power generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority to Cannon, Rutherford (except Murfreesboro), Williamson and Wilson counties, plus parts of Davidson, DeKalb, Marshall, Maury, Smith and Trousdale counties.

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