North Central Telephone Cooperative was one of 14 selected to receive funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement on Monday, January 25, 2010. NCTC’s Recovery Act Broadband Infrastructure project includes a $24,715,709 grant as well as a $24,964,000 loan to provide fiber to the premise to homes and businesses in Macon County, Sumner County and part of Smith County.
“Our projections are that such a large scale deployment of advanced fiber-optic technology will impact almost 1,000 businesses and 15,000 homes in our service areas. We don’t have an interstate highway system today that brings the traffic this area needs to build our economy. But this funding allows North Central to provide something even better — an infrastructure that will make this area very attractive to business and industry,” said Nancy J. White, NCTC’s President and CEO.
This monumental project, which must be completed within three years, is unlike any ever experienced in this area, even from the larger telecom companies. Plans are to start construction simultaneously in the city of Lafayette, Sumner County and Smith County.
"We have worked with a build-out strategy that seems to be almost one of a kind, and we now can begin the creation of a new broadband plan that will even give us global advantage. It's more than just a few jobs, this means that our service customers can take advantage of broadband technology to develop their own economic opportunities in the future," White said.
“There are many reasons I think our application was one of the first 30 awarded out of the 2200 applications filed,” said White. “First of all, we’ve demonstrated our ability to manage such a high-end project because of the fiber network we’re already building in Allen County, KY and Red Boiling Springs, TN. This build-out will complement what we’ve already started in these areas.
“Secondly, we were able to show that this is a rural area that could not have afforded to provide fiber-optic technology without some assistance,” she continued. "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has proved that it can reach down to the level that can use it the most. NCTC could show cause and effect of how to make funds like this work for people. We made the need come alive with the potential,” White said.
“And thirdly, we had an amazing team effort. With letters from the school systems, fire departments, police departments, libraries, hospitals as well as Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, US Representative Bart Gordon, State Representatives Michael McDonald and Terry Lynn Weaver and our local officials, we were able to show that we have an amazing community behind such an effort and that we would all work together for its success.”
“This project will have a positive impact on every aspect of our lives here in North Central Tennessee and Southern Kentucky — from telemedicine to online education to stimulating jobs to growing our communities. We are simply thrilled to be entrusted with such a responsibility and we pledge to work hard to make it worth while for our communities,” White said.
“I couldn’t possibly thank everyone who has been a part of this, but I’d like to mention a few: Bodamer Consulting, Liz Merry, Ladd Engineering, Connected Tennessee, the NCTC Board of Directors and all of the employees of North Central.”
“NCTC put together a superior plan which addressed the ways to get broadband to our members which was the goal of the Act. We operate as a cooperative that can compete on its merits of historic favor among customers. We are a local company that does not intimidate folks who are just learning how to use the Internet. This trust and partnership with the community was recognized as one of the assets. I am so proud that we stretched and reached such a big goal," White summarized.
Vilsack announced a total of $313,475,239 in Recovery Act funds today. Altogether, Congress awarded the USDA $2.5 billion in Recovery Act funding to help bring broadband services to rural un-served and underserved communities.