With startup funds and an Engagement and Outreach grant, UT Assistant Professor Sreedhar Upendram has launched an initiative that brings broadband internet to underserved rural communities across Tennessee.
“A lot of parents are pulling into McDonald’s parking lots in rural Tennessee to access free internet just to help their kids do homework,” Upendram said.
As education, professional training, and job seeking become more dependent on the internet, communities without affordable access are at risk of being left behind.
Upendram, of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics in the Herbert College of Agriculture, started his work last year in Wayne County. He and a local community leader secured funds to purchase a set of mobile wireless hotspots for the area’s library.