After an adverse court ruling on the expansion of broadband to outlying areas, EPB officials said those seeking such Internet connectivity should continue to let officials know.
EPB officials said, "While more than 800,000 Tennesseans currently cope without access to broadband connectivity (at least 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload), EPB encourages Tennessee neighbors to remain optimistic and make their voices heard about the future state of internet availability for all.
"Despite the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recent reversal of the FCC’s 2015 ruling that allowed municipal broadband providers to make services available to neighboring communities, EPB is encouraged by a year of positive movement in the state and recent findings from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
"Since last fall, the movement to make high-speed broadband available throughout the state has picked up steam with over four thousand petition signatures, dozens of events and strong support from both Democrat and Republican Tennessee lawmakers.
"Issued in July, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s broadband study reports the sobering fact that more than 800,000 Tennesseans do not have access to minimum broadband speeds (25 Mbps/3Mbps) and that rural areas are the most disadvantaged by the broadband gap."
EPB said the report "also includes good news for Tennesseans who want to join the 21st Century connected economy."
- Fiber optic connectivity is the fastest, most reliable and highest rated by households and businesses in Tennessee by a wide margin.
- High-speed internet access remains a top deciding factor for businesses choosing where to locate.
- A key recommendation is to ensure that all communities have broadband access in 3-5 years.
- In order to spur investment by promoting competition, the State of Tennessee can foster an open regulatory environment to allow any entity to build telecommunications infrastructure and offer broadband services.
- States, municipalities, communities and regions that want to impact economic development must build 21st Century infrastructure.
“Ultimately, Tennessee’s broadband gap is a problem for Tennesseans, and we need a Tennessee solution,” said David Wade, president of EPB. "We will continue to work with the growing number of state legislators and grassroots citizens interested in removing the barriers that prevent EPB and other municipal providers from serving our neighbors in surrounding areas who have little or no access to broadband. We are further encouraged by Commissioner Randy Boyd’s interest in addressing the lack of broadband in rural areas. As the head of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, he is especially well positioned to join with state lawmakers in addressing this challenge on behalf of Tennesseans.”