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USDA grants, loans, to help bring high-speed broadband to rural Kentucky

NC GAZETTE / WBRT RADIO
STAFF REPORT

Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 — The United States Department of Agriculture has announced investments in a dozen states aimed at improving broadband connectivity, including two areas in Kentucky.

The West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative was selected to receive a $3 million grant that will help construct a fiber-to-the-home broadband system providing state-of-the-art services to 406 unserved homes and businesses in Weakley County, Tenn.

The funds will also pay for construction of a new community center where residents will be able to access seven computer terminals and WiFi, free of charge. The project will allow the residents and businesses in this area to access high quality voice, video, and
broadband services.

West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative, headquartered in Graves County, provides advanced telecommunications services to 22 exchanges in Kentucky and Tennessee. The
company will expand its system to this new community while contributing $450,000 to help complete the project.

EASTERN KENTUCKY. The USDA has approved a loan of $20.5 million to build 427 miles of fiber-to-the-premises service in the Knox County communities of Cody, Pippa Passes and parts of Hindman.

The loan will allow the Thacker-Grigsby Telephone Co. to complete its fiber-to-premises migration. The project will serve approximately 30,000 customers.

According to a 2018 report by the Federal Communications Commission, 80 percent of the 24 million American households who lack reliable, affordable, high-speed internet are in rural areas. USDA’s investments in broadband infrastructure are helping transform rural America, providing innovation and technology to increase economic competitiveness and opportunities.

USDA is investing $91 million through the Telecommunications Programs. The 19 projects will benefit more than 27,000 businesses and households in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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