Wait almost over for high-speed Internet in rural Bradley County - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Wait almost over for high-speed Internet in rural Bradley County

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BRADLEY COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - Just this week, in a School Patrol report we told you how snow days are more often becoming “online days” for local students.

But that can be a challenge for students who live outside EPB's service area with limited access. The FCC made a historic vote on internet regulations last week that would allow EBP to expand their gigabite internet. That is, unless lawmakers step in.

Penny Coltrin and her town sons are researching a school project on President John F. Kennedy.

But that's a little hard to do when the screen they're looking at is about the size of a deck of cards.

“They have nightly assignments and we can't do them,” Coltrin said.

That's because affordable high-speed internet doesn't exist where the Coltrin's live in Bradley County.

It's a disadvantage for this 6th grade teacher as well because lesson planning and grading are now done online.

“There's a lot of times I want to say ‘Go home and research this' or ‘Do this online' and I stop myself because if they're in my situation, they don't have that option to do that,” she added.

But that could all change because of the FCC's decision to give the green light for EPB to start expanding.

People like Coltrin packed Thursday's community meeting to learn more from EPB President Harold DePriest about what needs to happen next.

“They are starting a process. If we get this law changed, to start a process to get a service and they haven't been for years and years and years,” DePriest said.

First lawmakers need to pass legislation to allow EPB to expand internet service outside its electric service area. Then EPB can apply for state franchise. Thirty days after EPB gets project approvals, they can begin construction. Then, EPB can start to serve customers 90 days after construction begins.

“You don't realize how big this is until you realize what people are missing out on when they don't have the service,” DePriest added.

And give families like the Coltrin's access like they've never had before.

EPB says they plan to work with the city of Cleveland to use poles that already exist.
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