Knoxville/ Science, Tech & Medicine
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Published on June 11, 2024
KUB's ConnectED Initiative Offers Free Fiber Internet to Eligible Students in KnoxvilleSource: Facebook/Knoxville Utilities Board

The Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) has initiated a program providing complimentary fiber internet to households with students in Knoxville, setting a precedent in tackling digital inequity within the region. Dubbed ConnectED, the initiative is backed by financial contributions from the City of Knoxville and Knox County, aiming to ensure that students from low-income families have unfettered access to the internet.

According to WATE, which released details of the program yesterday, eligible households stand to receive an $80 monthly subsidy that covers the full cost of a one Gigabit symmetrical KUB Fiber internet service, alongside managed router services that include an in-home Wi-Fi router. Managing to expand its coverage, KUB Fiber is currently operational in parts of Rocky Hill, Parkridge, Halls, Fourth & Gill, House Mountain, South Knoxville, and West Hills in Knox County.

Eligibility for the ConnectED program is defined by specific criteria. Families must have a child enrolled in grades K-12 within a Knox County public school and live within KUB’s electric service area, either within the City of Knoxville or Knox County. Furthermore, they are required to meet income guidelines set at either 200% below the federal poverty level or 80% of the median income for the area, as explained in WBIR's coverage of the initiative.

"KUB remains committed to addressing the need to provide broadband internet to underserved and underrepresented communities. Through ConnectED, we can provide our students affordable access to the fastest internet available," KUB President and CEO Gabriel J. Bolas II said in a statement obtained by WVLT. Applicants are asked to provide contact information, proof of school enrollment, and evidence of meeting income requirements upon applying. Enhancing their capabilities, the ConnectED program is intended to broaden educational opportunities and support families in the community.

Mayor Indya Kincannon highlighted the importance of digital access for education: "Reliable and affordable internet is a must for our students. We are so happy to help support this program that we know is helping families, broadening learning possibilities, and strengthening young minds in Knoxville," Kincannon told WVLT. Those interested in the program can check eligibility and apply through the KUB website at www.KUB.org/Connected.