HolstonConnect awarded broadband expansion funding from FCC

Jeff Bobo • Sep 1, 2018 at 5:02 PM

ROGERSVILLE — HolstonConnect, which is installing broadband service to Holston Electric Cooperative customers in Hawkins County, was named Tuesday among 33 winners of the Federal Communications Commission Connect America Fund II (CAFII) reverse auction.

HolstonConnect, which is a subsidiary of Holston Electric Cooperative (HEC), will receive approximately $53,000 for 10 years by meeting the requirements of the program to help defray the costs of expanding broadband to its 30,000 customers in Hawkins and Hamblen counties.

The CAF II auction marks the first time that the FCC has allowed electric cooperatives to bid for funding as broadband service providers.

This money comes directly from the Universal Service Fund (USF) through telecommunications service providers, mostly through billing customers.

HEC general manager Jimmy Sandlin noted that HolstonConnect will continue to explore all possible resources for funding.

“Every dollar counts,” Sandlin said. “Capital provided through grants enables HolstonConnect to speed up construction and access to the rural residents of Holston Electric Cooperative. This is your community and your future, and your member-owned cooperative is working hard to provide you with the opportunities you deserve.”

In Hawkins County earlier this year, HolstonConnect began installing high-speed Internet services, which will initially be offered to HEC customers with upload and download speeds of up to one gigabit.

Sandlin said data caps and throttling will be things of the past, as members can expect to see consistent Internet with the highest speeds available in the state of Tennessee. Additionally, in the near future members will be offered unlimited local and domestic long-distance calling.

A full product listing, including a channel lineup and digital video service pricing, will be announced by HolstonConnect when it becomes available through its website, social media and the Tennessee Magazine.

HEC is a member-owned, not-for-profit distributor of TVA power that provides safe, reliable and affordable energy to more than 30,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Hawkins and Hamblen counties.

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson said the auction results highlight the power of cooperative partnerships and collaboration as electric co-ops work to bring broadband to unserved communities in rural America.

“We thank the FCC for allowing electric co-ops to participate in this auction and look forward to building on this success moving forward,” Matheson said. “We are committed to continuing the rural broadband conversation and working with policymakers at the federal, state and local level on technology and funding solutions that will enrich the lives of rural American families and businesses.”

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