Gibson Electric Membership Corporation has been awarded $4,490,000 in three grants through the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund, developed using a portion of resources allocated to Tennessee through the Coronavirus Relief fund. Two of the grants will provide 80 percent funding to Gibson EMC for the construction of a broadband infrastructure network in the Woodland Mills zone and parts of the Hornbeak zone. (A member can view a map of the zones at www.join.gibsonconnect.com.) The third grant will provide 80 percent funding for the creation of up to 20 WiFi hotspots in the cooperative’s northwest Tennessee communities.
“We appreciate that Governor Bill Lee and our legislators have recognized the importance of broadband accessibility in our state’s rural areas and provided funding to help make this essential service available,” said Dan Rodamaker, President and CEO for Gibson Electric Membership Corporation and Gibson Connect. “During the pandemic, our consumer-members have desperately needed reliable, high-speed internet service to connect with their schools and workplaces, medical providers and places of worship,” he said. “We are extremely grateful Governor Lee and the State of Tennessee are helping us to meet this critical need.”
“The Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund grants will enable us to provide high-speed internet much more affordably and this is good for all of Gibson EMC’s consumer-members,” Rodamaker said. “We also are very pleased that the grants will help us provide up to 20 hotspots for our communities,” he said. “We will work closely with our local community leaders to determine the placements that will best help meet our members’ and their children’s needs.”
“We encourage members to register now for Gibson Connect service,” said Gibson EMC VP of Technical Services and Gibson Connect VP of Operations Charles Phillips. “Registrations help us plan our buildout and ensure members receive their internet, phone and TV service as soon as possible,” he said. “We will connect members’ homes and businesses as we pass them,” he says, “and registering after we’ve passed may delay connection.”
Registering is fast and easy. Just go to www.gibsonconnect.com to register or call 731-562-6000. It costs only $20 and the payment will be applied to the member’s first Gibson Connect bill when service is received.
For areas that are not grant-funded, Gibson EMC members are driving the order of the broadband buildout. Registering will help your zone reach its participation requirement and move your area up in the build order. Ultimately, Gibson EMC leadership says it hopes to provide high-speed internet access to all of its eligible members.
Gibson EMC is a local, not-for-profit, member-owned and member-controlled cooperative serving almost 39,000 homes and businesses in eight west Tennessee counties (Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Obion and Madison) and four west Kentucky counties (Carlisle, Fulton, Graves and Hickman). Gibson Connect is Gibson EMC’s wholly-owned, not-for-profit broadband subsidiary formed to provide high-speed, fiber-based internet service to Gibson EMC’s members. Gibson Connect also offers Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service and TV service.