Who benefits from $15M grant for Knoxville Utilities Board fiber internet expansion

Knoxville, Tenn. (WATE) — Areas in Tennessee that have gone without high-speed internet access may soon be able to enjoy high speed broadband thanks to a state-awarded broadband infrastructure investment.

Govt. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced Monday that state will use federal funds from the American Rescue Plan to provide $447 million in broadband infrastructure investments to a range of internet service providers across the state.

The Knoxville Utilities Board will receive $15,259,160.

The people expected to see the biggest help? Those who lack access to a wireless connection capable of minimum speed of 25 megabits per second, according to KUB. The expansion is expected to be very similar to the pilot program that KUB rolled out in parts of Knoxville, or at least, the services it provides.

“What that means for KUB is our standard residential package is a gigabyte symmetrical, meaning both the same fast speeds and upload and download, unlimited usage for a very value price in our market,” explained Vice President Fiber & Chief Technology Officer Jamie Davis.

In layman’s terms, KUB said people who live in areas where it’s hard to get high speed internet will soon receive some of the fastest service in the market.

“We had already pledged to serve these areas as part of our expansion of broadband,” said Davis. “What this does is move it up in the time frame.”

Within the next three years, KUB expects customers in parts of Jefferson, Sevier and Union counties to receive fiber internet.

“It really falls to providers, like KUB, to serve those folks,” Davis told WATE.

By the time those customers receive internet, KUB will have finished its fiber pilot program, which remains ongoing. Right now, approximately 250 customers are receiving fiber internet service in exchange for feedback about the program.

General area for KUB’s current fiber pilot program

“The internet is quick and and we haven’t really had any issues or interruptions,” said pilot participant Charley Dever.

It’s been over a month since Dever’s family thing to participate in the pilot program. After being with another service provider, Dever said there’s a noticeable difference.

“I don’t know about the speeds and and how they calculate that but I do know our service was a tenth of the speed, so KUB is ten times faster than our previous service.”

Not to mention the price difference.

“Having KUB come in with a competitive price, much faster internet much better customer service, has been great,” Dever told WATE.

Once launched, KUB residential internet service will start at $65 per month.

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