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Regional fiber provider United Communications says that it has passed 50,000 addresses on its 1,700 route mile fiber network.

United Communications is working with local governments, community groups and businesses in Project UNITE, which has a goal of connecting all rural homes and businesses in its region with fiber broadband.

The investment by United will support work in portions of Bedford, Franklin, Giles, Lincoln, Marshall, Maury, Moore, and Williamson counties. The company has offices in Chapel Hill and Franklin.

In September, the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund awarded the company six grants totaling $53.4 million to bring services to rural parts of the state. Funding came through the $446.7 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). A total of 36 companies across the state are being supported.

United Communications was formed as the United Telephone Company in 1947 to serve the middle part of the state. Doing business as United Communications, the regional provider with over 1,700 route miles of fiber is owned by Middle Tennessee Electric Cooperative.

“Fifty thousand passings is a great start to bridge the digital divide in rural Middle Tennessee,” United Communications President and CEO William Bradford said in a press release. “And with the support of our neighboring communities, we’re rapidly moving forward with the next 50,000 passings to make sure no one is left behind.”

Another provider receiving a grant for the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund is TDS Telecom. The company received $12.9 million to deploy service to Monroe County. The project will provide FTTH connections to 3,709 addresses.

The Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund is not the only federally-funded initiative aiding Tennessee. In July, the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), which aims to help students and others with off-campus connectivity needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, awarded $77 million in funding to Tennessee along with Puerto Rico, Colorado, Kansas, Ohio and Washington.

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