KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Jamie Taylor’s family doesn’t watch Netflix.
If her son wants to download a video game, they have to head over to their grandparents house.
Two of her children are home schooled, but don’t really use the internet for school work.
“We’re not able to use any online-only curriculum. Like, we can look at books and stuff, and they can do research with out hotspots, but anything that would be solely online, I would be afraid to rely on that,” Taylor said.
The Taylors have been living at their home off Elkins Road in Kodak for about eight years. All eight years, they haven’t had high-speed internet.
“We’ve used the satellite internet, but they’re just unreliable and expensive, so we just use our cell phone hotspot to get any access,” Taylor said.
She had no idea before moving to their home, because her previous home was only two miles down the road. They had broadband access there.
But, internet access wasn’t something her family thought they needed to look into before moving.
“There was nothing available, like I just went on Comcast, or AT&T is probably what, I think that’s what we had at our other house, and they’re like ‘not available in your area,’ so then I started noticing as we were driving home that everybody else had a HughesNet satellite, and I was like ‘oh no,'” Taylor said.
Taylor said they were never given a reason; just that it couldn’t be offered for their address.
When the pandemic hit, her eldest’s school district offered a hotspot, but she still couldn’t use it for video chats on the computer.
Her husband couldn’t work from home, even though his employers preferred that option, for the same reasons.
The Taylors are customers of the Knoxville Utilities Board. KUB’s new broadband plan could change their lives.
“The focus of it is a grid modernization effort, which really enhances, I’ll say the technology component of our electric distribution system, but that investment, in turn, enables us to be able to provide broadband service like a lot of utilities across the state have done,” Jamie Davis, Vice President of KUB, said.
According to the utility company’s website, KUB Broadband would serve all of its electric customers, and would be faster than other internet providers.
“Municipal broadband provides 100% symmetrical fiber, meaning faster download and upload times than many existing systems – lightning fast,” a guide states on the website.
Davis said the internet service package costs start at about $65 a month for customers, and they would have unlimited data. It won’t be a cheap venture for KUB.
“We project that the cost to build out the network and ultimately staff and operate that network, estimated cost is about $500 million over the first ten years of operation of the business line,” Davis said.
KUB is hosting a public forum, so customers can voice their input about the broadband plan.
That meeting will be hosted May 26 at 6 p.m. at the Grande Event Center off Clinton Highway (5441 Clinton Hwy).
Those interested in attending the meeting can register online. Registration closes at 5 p.m. May 25. All attendees are expected to adhere to the venue’s COVID-19 safety policies.
If all final plans are approved, KUB hopes to begin offering broadband in its electric service territory by 2022.
The construction of the fiber system is expected to take seven years to complete, but customers will be able to connect to internet, television, and phone services as KUB Broadband expands.
Taylor said she is definitely curious about the potential of having high-speed internet through her utility provider.
“I may like shoot them an email or something to let them know we’re definitely interested and support that,” Taylor said.
She said she likes having a built-in excuse for her kids, so they aren’t constantly on their phones or watching streaming services. At the same time, she would be able to use her computer for more than spreadsheets — and she could print easily with the Bluetooth printers.