TIPTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, elected leaders from West Tennessee and executives from Comcast were in Tipton County Monday as Comcast announced the completion of a $2.4 million broadband expansion.
“What’s happening here today is really important,” said Lee.
Important enough that the governor made a trip to Covington Monday as part of Comcast’s Digital Access Forum. The gathering celebrated $2.4 million worth of broadband expansion in Tipton County, providing high speed internet to 2,200 homes and businesses that previously didn’t have it.
“This is a pilot that has opened the doors for us to look at another dozen projects across the state of Tennessee and many more across the southeast and across the country,” said Andy Macke, VP External Affairs at Comcast.
A 2018 report by the Federal Communications Commission found one in four Tennesseans don’t have access to broadband internet.
Tennessee’s Broadband Accessibility Act was passed in 2017 in then-Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration. It provides financial incentives for service providers to offer broadband in rural communities and opened pathways for the state’s private, nonprofit electric cooperatives to offer broadband service.
Lee said in addition to $20 million allocated in fiscal year 2020, his administration put in $15 million.
“Often times, we don’t get a second look from small business, all the way up to industry, residents, if broadband internet isn’t accessible and active in a region,” said Justin Hanson, Covington mayor.
Lee said the connectivity is essential in Tennessee’s rural communities to open up opportunities in small business growth, telemedicine, education, and even agriculture.
“Agricultural technology, ag tech companies are a part of the future of west and northwest Tennessee, and so that’s only made possible and is only possible because of broadband expansion,” said Lee.
The day’s events also included a work-from-home job fair Monday afternoon.