LAFAYETTE, Tenn., Oct 18, 2010 -- LAFAYETTE, Tenn., October 18, 2010 – Access to high speed Internet connections grows more important every day. For businesses in Rural America it can make the difference between success and layoffs and loss of rural population.
To answer the call for advanced services, North Central Telephone Cooperative (NCTC) is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development (RD) to expand its high speed Internet network. The new fiber to the home network will enable NCTC to bring very high speed Internet and other services to about 15,000 households and 1000 businesses in parts of Macon, Smith and Sumner Counties, Tenn.
Today's Groundbreaking at NCTC’s Maple Grove central office in Lafayette included RD State Director Bobby Goode; NCTC President/CEO Nancy White; NCTC Board Members Royce Haliburton, Glen Hardcastle, Shelvy Linville, Randy Harston, Jerry Kirby, Dewey McCall, Jon Hesson, Jeff Roark and Calvin Graves; and a host of local leaders whose communities will benefit from the new service.
"We don’t have an interstate highway system that brings traffic direct to our service area. The best way I can see how to imagine building a sustainable foundation for our economy is through broadband," said White. "This funding allows North Central to provide something even better — an infrastructure that will make this area very attractive to business and industry."
NCTC was awarded recovery Act funding through a USDA Rural Development low interest infrastructure loan of $24,964,000 and a grant of $24,715,709. The investment will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to remote and rural communities. The system will be capable of delivering bandwidth in excess of 20 mbps to provide Internet, television and telephone services at affordable prices.
"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. For businesses, minutes can be the difference between profit or loss, success or failure; for the sick or injured it can be a matter of life or death."
Local Hospital Administrator Dennis Wolford agreed, saying, "NCTC installed fiber to the hospital this year and it is making a tremendous difference. Large files, like an MRI image can now be sent to a specialist for a second opinion any place they are in seconds rather than minutes or days.
The new fiber network that NCTC is building will give our doctors and nurses access to even more opportunities to improve healthcare in the region," said Wolford.
Goode also noted that, "Broadband service in NCTC's service area will soon be significantly faster than what is available in many urban areas."
Others participating in the event included Lafayette Mayor J.Y. Carter, State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, State Sen. Mae Beavers, RD Telecommunications Program Director Terry Kokinda and RD Area Director Jerry Jolley. NCTC Board member Shelvy Linville also serves as Macon County Mayor.
White said, "NCTC was able to show USDA the life changing difference that broadband technology will make in our rural area by example because it has already made a difference to our local hospital and others. Fiber-to-the-premise means the people of our community can telecommute, start new businesses and actively grow this community in new ways.
This award makes it financially possible to deploy that fiber. That’s what we believe to be the heart of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act," said White.
So far, more than $204 million in Recovery Act loans and grants has been invested by USDA in broadband projects for people and businesses in rural Tennessee. 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.
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.
Construction is already simultaneously underway in the city of Lafayette, Sumner County and Smith County. "It's more than just a few jobs, this means that our communities and customers will have access to all of the opportunities broadband technology brings. That access gives us back more control over our economic future now and for generations to come," White said.
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.
NCTC serves more than 20,000 access lines throughout the central Tennessee and southern Kentucky corridor. It provides customers both in the cooperative service area as well as their CLEC area of Scottsville, KY, wireline, bundled, broadband and video services. NCTC and its competitive carrier, NCC, are also vested in wireless partnerships as well as that of network management services, optical transport and off-air transport. NCTC began as a member-owned telco in the early 1950s and is one of the nation’s largest independent telecommunications cooperative networks today.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, businesses, community infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. Last year Rural Development assisted more than 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses with more than 1.3 billion dollars in financial assistance through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants. More than 86 percent of these investments will be paid back directly, with interest. The rest is at work creating jobs, broadening the local tax base and increasing opportunities in education, training, healthcare and public safety.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in Macon County contact the Rural Development Area Office in Cookeville at 931-528-6539, ext. 2, toll free at (800) 342-3149 ext. 1493 or 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