Knox County leaders to vote on agreement to fund internet access program with KUB fiber system

The Student Internet Access Program was established to help low-income student households access KUB’s fiber internet when available.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On Aug. 22, the Knox County Commission will vote on whether to help fund a Knoxville Utilities Board program meant to make it easier for low-income households to have access to the internet.

It’s called the Student Internet Access Program and is being developed alongside KUB’s new fiber internet service. Households would need to have a K-12 student and they must be enrolled in a federal low-income benefit program, or have income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.

The household must also be able to connect to KUB’s fiber internet, and households will need to re-qualify annually.

They proposed an interlocal agreement with the Knox County Commission where the county would make annual funding contributions based on requirements for student households, increased payment-in-lieu-of-taxes from KUB and the impact of electric rate increases.

KUB said their new broadband system would lead to around $20 million in payments to the county over the next decade. In essence, they said the county could take some of that money to fund the new internet access program.

They said 15% of Knox County students lack access to broadband internet, and most in the area don’t have it because of financial constraints. The Student Internet Access Program is expected to launch in 2023 and would be funded by both public and private sources.

KUB is expected to launch the first phase of its fiber internet system in the fall which includes high-speed gigabit internet, as well as TV and phone service for $65 per month. Anyone curious about whether their address is included in the first phase of the fiber rollout can check online.

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