United Communications gets $7.9M to expand its Tennessee middle mile fiber network

May 23, 2024
The service provider will use the funding to bolster its fiber network in Middle Tennessee.

United Communications’ middle mile fiber efforts got a boost. Through its $7.98 million award through the Middle Mile Buildout grant program, the provider will add 267 miles of fiber to rural communities across ten counties in Middle Tennessee.

This award enhances United’s growing fiber presence.

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

When it completes this latest network expansion, United will add what it says is “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.  

Serving the underserved, unserved

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. 

Nearly 400,000 Tennesseans do not have access to a broadband provider, representing more than 5% of the state's homes and businesses.

The new middle mile fiber infrastructure will support Project UNITE.

“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,” said Josh Lynch, COO for United Communications.

Tennessee’s two-pronged program

Project UNITE is part of United’s efforts to participate in Tennessee’s competitive grant program. The program will invest $97.2 million in middle and last-mile deployments in select counties where residents lack access to modern broadband speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps.

Tennessee is implementing two broadband infrastructure programs to provide reliable internet access in areas lacking adequate service: The last Mile Connection program and the Middle Mile Buildout program.

Tennessee’s Last Mile Connection program is a competitive grant program designed to provide service to remote areas of the state where broadband infrastructure projects would not be feasible without assistance. Tennessee’s Middle Mile Buildout Program is a competitive grant program designed to deploy middle-mile infrastructure in rural areas of the state to improve and expand last-mile connections.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Commissioner Ned McWhorter announced the grant program in July 2023. It was funded through the Capital Projects Fund

Through Project UNITE, United has built 3,800 miles of fiber infrastructure in communities that larger providers have overlooked or ignored.

Leaders from rural communities like Bedford County, Tennessee, have praised the service provider’s efforts.

“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 Tracey Strassner, Connect Bedford Co-Chair. “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.”

About the Author

Sean Buckley

Sean is responsible for establishing and executing the editorial strategies of Lightwave and Broadband Technology Report across their websites, email newsletters, events, and other information products.

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