Press Release

Franklin, Tenn. — (May 21, 2024) — Local internet provider United Communications announced that its recent $7.98 million award through the Middle Mile Buildout grant program will add 267 miles of high-capacity fiber to rural communities across 10 counties in Middle Tennessee.

United already operates an extensive 2,000-mile backbone, including points-of-presence in most Nashville data centers and 56 Marietta in Atlanta. This enterprise-class network not only supports United’s services to over 90,000 homes and businesses in Middle Tennessee but also supports many governments and enterprise businesses with needs to connect to the data center infrastructure across the Southeast.  

This network expansion will add significant capacity and new routes to towns across the region, including Lebanon, Shelbyville, Winchester, Lynchburg, Lewisburg, Franklin, Murfreesboro, and Nashville, supporting United’s efforts to serve businesses of all sizes and bring broadband access to traditionally underserved communities.  

Additionally, the new infrastructure will support Project UNITE, United’s effort to serve every Middle Tennessean who still lacks reliable broadband connections. Almost 400,000 Tennesseans do not have access to a broadband provider, representing more than 5% of homes and businesses in the state.

The term middle mile refers to the critical, high-capacity infrastructure that makes it possible for individuals to connect to the internet. From a parent streaming a movie with their children to a 911 dispatcher responding to a distress call, middle mile networks affect everyone within a community.

“Imagine the challenge of getting to the interstate if there were no roads, bridges, or tunnels beyond the end of your driveway,” said United Communication’s Chief Operating Officer, Josh Lynch. “In terms of internet access, that’s the reality that many of our neighbors are facing every day. With these middle mile grants, United will be able to provide a major fiber investment into our communities and give them access to the same internet connectivity found in the biggest cities in the world.”

United applied for the grants in 2023 through Project UNITE, its initiative to invest in universal broadband coverage across Middle Tennessee through local partnerships and grant funding opportunities. 

“While other providers start building in densely populated cities and work their way out to rural areas, we are committed to building in the rural areas and working our way in,” said United Communications President and CEO, William Bradford. “These grant projects will connect many different parts of our middle mile infrastructure into a single, resilient network with future expansion capacity.” 

“Through Project UNITE, we’ve built 3,800 total miles of fiber infrastructure in communities that larger providers have overlooked or simply ignored,” said United Communications CFO, Kristin Jackson. “Our local presence and local partnerships have made it possible for United to accelerate connectivity for our customers.”

“The Connect Bedford Community team is thrilled that their year-long efforts and partnership with United Communications have resulted in getting us one step closer to being the first rural connected community in Tennessee,” said Connect Bedford Co-Chair, Tracey Strassner. “This is a significant enablement milestone for our community. We look forward to continuing to work with United on other grants so we can continue to connect Bedford.”

Announced in July 2023 by Governor Bill Lee and Commissioner Stuart McWhorter, the competitive grant program will invest a total of $97.2 million towards middle mile and last mile deployments in select counties where residents lack access to modern broadband speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps. Funding for the grant program was allocated through the Capital Projects Fund. 

Learn how you can become a United Communications high-speed internet customer online at united.net or find additional updates about Project UNITE at united.net/project-unite/. 

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