The communication leader pointed to a slide. William Bradford, president of United Communications, said the blue areas, mostly in rural western Williamson County, are where internet service will soon be available, thanks to $14 million in state-distributed federal funds.
Bradford was joined on the Franklin stage by Middle Tennessee Electric President Chris Jones and Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson.
The Tuesday morning discussion: Broadband expansion in the county — part of the quarterly Franklin Tomorrow Breakfast with the Mayors.
Bradford talked after the presentation about how his company’s Project UNITE is “designed to get service to locations that didn’t have any broadband whatsoever. Primarily old DSL areas.
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“It was almost the entire western half of the county.”
He specifically pointed to areas around Fairview, New Hope, Burwood, Leiper’s Fork in the west, as well as southeastern areas of the county like Arrington and Triune that have small pockets without internet access.
“Those would be the communities of primary interest,” Bradford said.
Anderson was the lone mayor on stage at the Oct. 25 event with Franklin Mayor Ken Moore out recuperating from a health issue.
“We deal with the word infrastructure now and we think of roads and water and sewer, etc. The new conversation is going to be about fiber and broadband,” Anderson said.
The mayor said multiple companies have helped to expand the county’s broadband, including AT&T, Comcast and Charter.
‘Broadband is a way of life’
The portion of the funds from the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund–American Rescue Plan earmarked for Williamson County is part of the total $53.4 million that United received to also help access in Bedford, Franklin, Giles, Lincoln, Marshall, Maury and Moore counties.
Also, receiving federal broadband funds was the Volunteer Energy Cooperative, which will utilize $15.4 million to serve parts of Williamson, as well as Bradley and Polk counties.
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Jones said Middle Tennessee Electric, which supplies power for Williamson County, is hyper-focused on providing internet service after merging four years ago with United.
“For us broadband is a way of life,” said Jones.
He said the electric cooperative, which serves more than 750,000 customers in 11 counties, can use its already-existing “efficiencies to solve this problem.”
According to United, the company has provided broadband to more than 11,000 previously unserved locations in Middle Tennessee.
“We’ve gained a lot of ground. As of today, thousands of Middle Tennessee Electric members who didn’t have broadband before, have it now,” Jones said. “We have a lot of work left to do. But we are going to solve this for everybody.”