NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced legislation to increase broadband access to Tennessee’s unserved citizens. Tennessee currently ranks 29th in the U.S. for broadband access, with 34 percent of rural Tennessee residents lacking access at recognized minimum standards.
“From the farmer and the accountant in West Tennessee whose businesses are stifled, to the East Tennessee student who can’t complete her schoolwork at home, a lack of reliable internet access is preventing too many rural Tennesseans, rural communities and our state from reaching its full potential,” Haslam said. “While there is no one solution that can guarantee broadband accessibility to every single Tennessean, this legislation provides a reasonable, responsible path to improve access in a meaningful way through investment, deregulation and education.”
The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, along with Haslam’s proposed budget, will provide $45 million over three years in grants and tax credits for service providers to assist in making broadband available to unserved homes and businesses. In addition, the plan will permit Tennessee’s private, nonprofit electric cooperatives to provide retail broadband service and make grant funding available to the state’s local libraries to help residents improve their digital literacy skills and maximize the benefits of broadband.
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