BrightRidge awarded $2.47 million in Tennessee Emergency Broadband Grant funding


JOHNSON CITY – BrightRidge Broadband will offer free community Wi-Fi at the grounds of 16 Washington County schools, six community centers, three Johnson City schools and three Sullivan County schools under $2.47 million in Tennessee Emergency Broadband Grants awarded by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

BrightRidge Broadband will match the grant with $617,828 in local funds for a total project cost of $3,089,143. The grants are funded through the State’s Coronavirus Relief Fund allotment from the federal government and distributed through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, with all projects required to be online by mid-December under the grant award.

“This is a huge win for BrightRidge customers who are doing all they can to keep their children’s school work up to speed and their jobs secure, but the pandemic has demonstrated that high-speed broadband is essential for our customers to succeed in their efforts,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said Tuesday. “We would like to thank our regional legislative delegation for their strong support of the application, and certainly, Governor Bill Lee and the Department of Economic and Community Development, for trusting BrightRidge to provide a major broadband boost to our region.”

According to the Governor Lee administration, TECD received 84 applications, funding 62 projects representing at $61.1 million in broadband expansion. Pursuant to federal guidelines, these projects are limited to those that would enhance access to individuals and families affected during the COVID-19 pandemic by the lack of broadband in their area.

In all, BrightRidge was awarded grants for six projects. Under the awards, BrightRidge will provide free community Wi-Fi at 1 Gb capacity for at least 12 months, re-evaluating community conditions at that time. In addition, BrightRidge will be extending fiber to the premise broadband to the unserved Bowmantown community in western Washington County as well as unserved residents in the Key Mills/Pleasant Valley community.

“These awards allow us to serve areas that would otherwise not be viable for years to come,” BrightRidge Broadband Officer Stacy Evans said. “We are pleased to be able to move forward providing service levels that are second to none in the country on a very affordable basis, and placing BrightRidge customers at the front of the line when it comes to fast, reliable broadband services.”

BrightRidge Broadband initiated service 1.5 years ago, providing the only 10Gb system-wide service in the nation for fiber to the premise customers as well as local on-site support with no data caps or service contracts for residential customers.

“There isn’t another service like this in the country,” Evans said. “We are leading the way here in Northeast Tennessee with first in the nation service levels, and through these grant awards, pushing this same type of service out to the hardest to reach customers in rural areas.”

Under the grant, fiber optic service will be extended to schools and community centers throughout the BrightRidge service area, with Wi-Fi based internet in facility parking areas and grounds.

Schools being provided with free Wi-Fi on the grounds include Science Hill High School, Indian Trail Intermediate School and South Side Elementary in Johnson City.

And, 16 Washington County schools will also receive the service, including; Grandview Elementary, Gray Elementary, Lamar Elementary, Ridgeview Elementary, Asbury Optional High School, Fall Branch Elementary, Jonesborough Middle School, South Central Elementary, Daniel Boone High School, David Crockett High School, both the old and new Boones Creek Elementary schools, Jonesborough Elementary, Sulphur Springs Elementary, West View Elementary, and University School at East Tennessee State University.

Further, three Sullivan County schools in the BrightRidge Broadband service area will be provided with the service, including Miller Perry Elementary, Colonial Heights Middle School and Mary Hughes School in Piney Flats.

Community centers receiving free BrightRidge Community Wi-Fi on the grounds include the Appalachian Fair Grounds in Gray, Bowmantown Ruritan, Limestone Ruritan, Leesburg Ruritan, Oak Glen Community Center and Telford Ruritan.

About BrightRidge

BrightRidge is a publicly owned electric utility serving 83,671 customers in Washington, Sullivan, Carter and Greene counties. It is the 10th largest local power company in the Tennessee Valley Authority service area. BrightRidge Broadband, a division of BrightRidge, offers nation-leading 10GB symmetrical fiber-to-the-premise services to more than 30,000 locations in its service area.