A group of Tennessee broadband providers has launched projects that received $53.5 million in state broadband funding. The group, known as Project UNITE, is spearheaded by local provider United Communications.

The projects will make high-speed broadband — fiber or wireless — available to more than 14,000 underserved locations in Middle Tennessee. The other providers involved in Project UNITE include Middle Tennessee Electric and Duck River Electric.

The $53.4 million state grant is being supplemented by a $14 million investment from United Communications and more than $10 million committed by county governments for a total infrastructure investment of over $77 million.

According to a press release, this is the single largest investment of its kind in state history.

United Communications and its partners successfully applied for the grants in 2022 through Project UNITE.

The grants fit in with United Communications plans to expand its existing network of over 1,700 route miles of fiber backbone to supply high-speed internet, the latest Wi-Fi technology, digital TV, and phone service to residential customers and businesses across Middle Tennessee.

According to recent census data, rural Tennesseans are 10 times more likely than their neighbors in urban areas to lack access to fast, reliable internet connections.

“United was founded 75 years ago by farmers and rural neighbors who wanted to connect to one another,” William Bradford, United Communications, said in a prepared statement. “We’re here 75 years later with largely the same mission. Through Project UNITE, we’ve brought service to over 17,000 locations, and we’re just getting started. Thanks to Governor Lee and our local partners, United is setting out on a path to fix the digital divide for every single Tennessean, once and for all.”

The Project UNITE award is just one of many that Tennessee has made to expand broadband in other areas of the state.

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