Warren RECC announced Thursday that it will bring high-speed broadband internet access to Grayson County this year through a partnership with Lafayette, Tennessee-based telephone cooperative NCTC (North Central Telephone Cooperative).

In a Facebook live announcement, Grayson County Judge Executive Kevin Henderson announced the partnership between the two companies.

“For years, we have struggled with wireless and DSL in this county,” Henderson said. “Today, I’m happy to see two companies with strong community values take on the difficult task of bringing high-speed internet to our county.”

The companies will be working together to bring “affordable, reliable high-speed fiber internet to parts of Grayson County,” according to fiberforgrayson.com, the website set up for residents to seek further information about the project and to request high-speed internet for their own homes.

Officials said that fiber internet is the most state-of-the-art technology available and brings speeds of up to one gigabit per second. Packages range in price depending on speed.

“I’m looking forward to this project getting started and to so many of you having access to high speed internet,” Henderson said, before expressing his appreciation to the NCTC and Warren RECC boards of directors for having the vision to see the importance of the project, the employees of both companies, and the Grayson County magistrates for also having the vision to move the county forward.

The project is receiving funding from multiple sources, including the newly formed Grayson County Healthcare Foundation, which, Henderson said, saw the need for expanding telehealth, medical monitoring, and medical research as “paramount for the healthcare of Grayson County.”

Additionally, Warren RECC and NCTC announced Thursday that they would receive federal funding through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) to expand rural broadband service across Grayson County, as well as areas in east Warren County and some of Edmonson County.

According to a Warren RECC press release, in October of 2019, Warren RECC and NCTC began a pilot to bring high-speed internet to 800 members in southeast Warren County.

Since then, the coverage area has expanded to include over 1,000 members, thanks in part to a $300,000 grant from the Warren County Fiscal Court. The RDOF assistance allows the two companies to expand their collaboration to additional areas of the Warren RECC service territory and add about 11,000 Warren RECC members eligible to receive the high-speed service.

“Providing high-speed internet in rural areas has been and continues to be an important issue nationwide,” said Dewayne McDonald, president and CEO of Warren RECC. “Fortunately, we have been able to develop a successful model with NCTC. Thanks to the RDOF funds, we are able to move more rapidly than we expected, and we’re delighted to be able to start our expansion into other parts of the Warren RECC territory immediately. Part of our mission is to improve the quality of life for them. This expansion represents a giant leap in progress for our members, and we’re excited about the momentum. For the areas we didn’t win, we hope the companies that did win them will live up to their commitment to serve our members with the same quality and service offered by Warren RECC and NCTC.”

“With 70 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry, NCTC has always been dedicated to delivering the most advanced technology available to the most rural areas,” said NCTC President and CEO Johnny McClanahan. “Partnering with Warren RECC is the best way for us to help other areas who do not have the same access. In a time where high-speed internet is a lifeline, we are thrilled to be part of this expansion. We plan to provide long overdue high-speed internet service to these eligible areas and hopefully can expand with additional funding and support.”

The companies are currently installing in the Warren County expansion area, and expect to be ready to sign up Grayson County members for service by the third quarter of 2021.

Plans for expansion in Edmonson County will be announced as they are developed. NCTC will contact residents as soon as service is available.

Those seeking more information about the project or who want to sign up to receive high-speed internet at their home are encouraged to visit fiberforgrayson.com or call 270-971-2021.

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