Grant to expand better internet to Putnam residents, businesses 

Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter (left) reviews that areas to be serviced by the broadband grant with Twin Lakes General Manager and CEO Jonathan West.

By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ

PUTNAM COUNTY – Thanks to a $10.4M grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Twin Lakes will soon provide residents of rural Putnam County with access to some of the fastest internet in the world.

The Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund – American Rescue Plan (TEBF-ARP) project calls for the construction of a 195-mile fiber network that will provide broadband access to approximately 2,400 unserved residents and businesses in Putnam County. 

Putnam County will provide $4.4M from federal American Rescue Plan funds allocated specifically for broadband, water and sewer infrastructure investments, to complete the project. 

“Access to high-speed Internet has never been more important,” says Randy Porter, Putnam County Mayor. “We are excited to be able to make this investment in the expansion and delivery of reliable broadband to unserved Putnam County residents and businesses.”  

The U.S. Department of the Treasury previously defined “unserved areas” as lacking access to a wireless connection capable of minimum speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload. However, due to the increasing demands of the digital age, any connection that provides lower than 100 Mbps download speed and 20 Mbps upload speed is now deemed “unserved.” 

“There are 2,399 households in Putnam County alone that don’t have access to 100 Mbps broadband,” said Jonathan West, General Manager and CEO at Twin Lakes. “Of those, 1,736 households don’t even have access to 25 Mbps speed connections, which is the equivalent to dial-up.”

Limited internet speeds for these 1,736 households create difficulties for users who work remotely and for those who wish to stream high quality content, such as 4K movies. The new fiber network will eliminate these issues, providing speeds of up to 10 Gig, the fastest internet currently available in the world.

West said, “It’s a great opportunity for those that have zero broadband today to go from that ‘worst to first’ status, to have the very best available that there is provided by a local company.”

He added, “We are so thankful to the state of Tennessee that they were willing to have a program like this that fixes those areas across the state that didn’t have adequate broadband service.”

Construction of the fiber will begin soon. The grant period is three years; however, West anticipates that construction will be complete in two years.

“Having access to reliable 10 Gb broadband service will ensure these Putnam County residents have the connectivity they need to succeed in today’s online world,” said West. “The submitted testimonials that we received from hundreds of Putnam County residents made a huge difference in our application and we look forward to connecting those homes and businesses over the next 24 months.”

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