SUNBRIGHT, Tenn, Oct 18, 2010 -- Access to high speed Internet connections (broadband) grows more important every day. For businesses in Rural America it can make the difference between success and layoffs.
To answer the call for advanced services, Highland Telephone Cooperative (HTC) is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development (RD) to expand high speed Internet access to about 18,000 homes and 1,830 businesses in Morgan and Scott Counties as well as parts of McCreary County, Kentucky.
The partnership was announced today by RD State Director Bobby Goode and HTC General Manager Frederick Terry at the cooperative in Sunbright.
"Broadband access is no longer optional," said Goode. "Education, healthcare and every kind of business depends on the Internet. Whether it’s receiving orders or specifications, searching for the best price for parts, or working from home, it takes more speed to handle the work load."
"Thanks to the support of Congressman Davis, USDA has the financial resources to help Highland Telephone Coop bring cutting edge technology and innovation in the rural communities they serve," said Goode.
HTC was awarded recovery Act funding through a USDA rural Development low interest infrastructure loan of $49,866,871 and a grant of $16,622,291. The investment will be used to deploy a Fiber-to-the-Premises, wireline fiber-optic cable network, configured in Passive Optical Network architecture, able to support speeds in excess of 20 gbps.
Goode observed that that broadband service in this area will soon be significantly faster than what is available in many urban areas.
Others participating in the event included Rep. Lincoln Davis’ Representative Beth Hickman, the entire HTC Board of Directors, Scott County Mayor-Elect Jeff Tibbles, Huntsville Mayor George Potter, Lafollette Mayor Mike Stanfield, Oakdale Mayor Vic Jeffers, Oneida Mayor Jack Lay, RD Telecommunications program Director Terry Kokinda, RD Area Director Jerry Amonett and staff member Mary Short.
So far, more than $109 million in Recovery Act loans and grants has been invested by USDA in broadband projects for people and businesses in rural Tennessee.
According to analysis released by the National Economic Council last year, the $2.4 billion in Recovery Act investments in broadband nationwide are expected to create tens of thousands of jobs in the near term and expand economic development and job opportunities in communities that would otherwise be left behind in the new knowledge-based economy.
With new or increased broadband access, communities can compete on a level playing field to attract new businesses, schools can create distance learning opportunities, medical professionals can provide cost-efficient remote diagnoses and care, and business owners can expand the market for their products beyond their neighborhoods to better compete in the global economy.
The Recovery Act is designed to jumpstart the nation's economy, create or save millions of jobs and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.
More information about USDA’s Recovery Act efforts is available at www.usda.gov/recovery.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, businesses, community infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. Last year Rural Development assisted more than 864,000 Tennessee families and businesses with more than $655 million in financial assistance through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in Morgan County contact the Rural Development Area Office in Knoxville at 865-523-3338, ext. 4, toll free at (800) 342-3149 ext. 1491or visit us online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 TDD (615) 783-1397