Cumberland County will consider allocating some $3 million of its ARP funds for broadband expansion.
Mayor Allen Foster said that the budget committee approved a resolution for the money in hopes of addressing a major need in the community.
“Broadband in Cumberland County, we have a real serious problem here,” Foster said. “I’ve met with everybody on the local, state, and federal levels about, it even the FCC, about the issues that we have in Cumberland County. And we just have people that don’t have good internet service, much less anything that meets a broadband definition.”
Foster said that the money will be used as matching funds for potential service providers who apply to Tennessee’s Broadband Accessibility Grant program. He said that there are already interested providers who will work on applications.
“And there’s a program where the state is putting about $400 million into broadband infrastructure and providers get additional grant points if the counties will agree to pay part of the match, its a 70-30 grant I believe,” Foster said. “And this is the county’s way of saying anybody that’s approved for a state broadband grant, we’re going to match part of it. And that helps the provider to get their points on the application and make it even stronger.”
Foster said that over the years, the county has secured some $20.5 million specifically to help address broadband issues. He said that in addition to the potential for this grant, there will be other funding opportunities to get better service to the citizens.
Foster said that they hope to find out sometime in the spring who, if any of the providers, receive the grant and will go from there. He siad that there are still plans to use some of the county’s ARP funds for water and sewer as well.