Commissioner Boyd Announces Statewide Broadband Assessment

Tuesday, January 05, 2016 | 1:06pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd announced today the launch of a statewide assessment of broadband access and usage in Tennessee.

The survey of businesses and households begins today and continues through March 15. Businesses and residents may take the online assessment at www.tn.gov/broadband.

Boyd said the department determined the need for a statewide assessment of broadband access and usage during his initial set of listening tours across the state in early 2015. Elected leaders, business executives and economic development professionals in all nine TNECD regions told Boyd and department officials that a lack of broadband access may hurt future economic development efforts in rural Tennessee.

“Tennessee’s economic future is directly tied to our broadband access,” Boyd said. “Broadband access impacts our quality of life, educational opportunities, healthcare and our businesses’ ability to compete. We must measure who has broadband Internet access and how they are using it. Help us make sure every Tennessee community has access to broadband by taking this assessment.“

Boyd said the department’s assessment is an impartial survey of broadband access, adoption and usage in Tennessee’s rural, suburban and urban communities. TNECD will then offer strategies to drive broadband utilization in the state.

In addition to the demand assessment, TNECD will partner with the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders to identify access gaps and evaluate options and costs to build out unserved and underserved areas of the state. TNECD will also offer recommendations for operational and funding models. 

The department will deliver a full report and policy recommendations derived from the assessment to Governor Bill Haslam in June.

TNECD Assistant Commissioner for Rural Development Amy New said broadband access is crucial to driving workforce development and furthering entrepreneurism in rural areas.

New said the department will work with local governments, economic development organizations and the industry to drive participation in the assessment.

“High-speed Internet access has become a standard need for businesses and educational institutions around the world, and rural Tennessee is no different. Help us make sure every Tennessean’s voice is heard on this important topic by taking the survey,” New said.

TNECD engaged Strategic Networks Groups (SNG) and NEO Fiber for this initiative. Both companies have extensive experience helping states form broadband Internet access plans.

About Strategic Networks Group (SNG)

SNG is a group of broadband economists developing strategies that maximize economic and social returns from broadband investments. SNG provides evidence-based recommendations to communities, regions, and States who are looking for proactive ways to protect and grow local business profitability through broadband utilization. SNG’s holistic approach looks at both the supply (availability) and demand (utilization) of broadband and how addressing each strategically drives economic development. Learn more about SNG at www.sngroup.com.

About NEO Fiber

At the forefront of broadband initiatives, from planning to execution, NEO is one of the nation’s leaders in planning, engineering and developing strategies for community networks. With extensive experience in both the public and private sector, the NEO team is able to apply real-world business sense to every type of project.  NEO has helped communities across the United States create successful and sustainable networks that meet each community’s specific needs. Visit NEO online at www.neofiber.net.

About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. To grow and strengthen Team Tennessee, the department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Tennessee is the only three-time winner of “State of the Year” for economic development by Business Facilities magazine. Find us on the web: tnecd.com. Follow us on Twitter: @tnecd. Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/tnecd.

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