Williamson Home Page Staff Reports July 18, 2022

United Communications secures $130M credit facility to support broadband grants

United Communications’ Project UNITE has targeted over $100 million in expansion across eight Middle Tennessee counties as part of this year’s Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (“TNECD”) broadband grant program, per a release.

To fund proposed projects and accelerate the expansion of its fiber network in rural communities, United closed on a $130 Million credit facility with CoBank, one of the nation’s largest providers of financing to rural digital infrastructure and agribusiness operators.

The new credit facility, along with partnerships with Middle Tennessee Electric and Duck River Electric, will enable United to quickly deploy fiber internet service to unserved households and businesses when the grant awards are announced by TNECD later this summer, per the release.

“[Friday’s] announcement is yet another indicator of United’s intention to fully connect Middle Tennessee with a reliable and affordable broadband network,” said Kristin Jackson, Chief Financial Officer for United.

“We are excited about the opportunity to continue to work with United Communications. United’s recent fiber construction projects support the goal of increasing broadband access to unserved and underserved areas in Tennessee and fit into CoBank’s mission to provide capital to support the communications infrastructure of rural America. United Communications and CoBank are deeply committed to supporting the buildout of broadband to rural communities.” said Kevin Oliver, Managing Director.

In Tennessee, one out of every four rural households do not have a broadband subscription. In communities with low residential and commercial density, it is financially difficult for any provider to independently absorb the entire cost of network planning, construction and maintenance. United’s grant submissions for state funding are supplemented by the company’s own investments and financial commitments from county governments in under-connected areas.

“Through Project UNITE, we have an ambitious plan to connect all our neighbors who still lack access to reliable broadband in Middle Tennessee,” said William Bradford, President and CEO of United Communications.

“Having access to this new funding will truly benefit our Middle Tennessee communities and allow us to speed-up our plans to connect the unserved and bring local broadband choice to many more residents. CoBank’s commitment reinforces United’s financial stability and our expansion capabilities throughout the region.”