Community Planning Resources

Broadband is another term for internet access. With broadband, people are able to use the internet and any other internet-related or internet-dependant resources. It enables access to a variety of tools and resources, not limited to educational resources, work-from-home opportunities, telehealth services, online videos, online shopping, and access to informational resources. The FCC's Getting Broadband Q&A has more information regarding broadband technologies and the benefits of high-speed internet access. 


Like others around the country, Tennesseans have become more dependent on high-speed internet access in their daily lives. Given the importance of the digital world in the educational and economic outcomes of Tennesseans, it is essential to focus on increasing broadband accessibility around the state. 

Broadband USA's Planning a Community Broadband Roadmap:  NTIA created this toolkit to support local community in planning activities to help expand broadband in a way that drives economic growth and educational opportunities.       

Appalachian Regional Commission Broadband Planning Primer and Toolkit:  ARC created this toolkit to provide information about broadband technology and resources to support the planning process.

USDA’s Rural e-Connectivity Consumer Toolkit: The USDA’s toolkit highlights examples of how e-Connectivity resources are being used to increase access to broadband services in rural communities. It also allows customers to locate resources the federal government offers for planning, equipment, construction, and other projects.

FCC Consumer Complaint Center:  The FCC has a Consumer Complaint Center where anyone can file an official complaint about a telecom billing or service issue.  The site also allows individuals to participate in an informal process and report any concerns about providers or policies without going through the formal complaint process.          

NTIA Federal Funding Guide:  NTIA has compiled a list of funding resources related to broadband.  

Appalachian Regional Commission POWER Grants: This is a congressionally funded initiative to assist coal-impacted communities in the ARC region.  Broadband is included as one of the four areas of focus for this year’s program.  ARC will  accept applications through Spring 2020. 

Community Connect Grants:  USDA administers this program to support broadband deployment in rural areas.   

USDA ReConnect Grant and Loan Program: Congress appropriated $600M for building improved broadband e-Connectivity for families, businesses, farms, schools and health care facilities by offering loans and grants to build infrastructure and install equipment that provides modern, reliable, high-speed internet service in rural America. Click the link to learn about the requirements including eligible grant applicants and eligible expenses.

Broadband access is more important than ever as many Tennesseans have been instructed to stay home from work and school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Accessibility is critical to meet our needs for education, telemedicine, telecommuting, and overall quality of life.

Below you will find resources to help navigate through this uncertain time.

TNECD’s Response: Staying Connected During the COVID-19 Quarantine

FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Program: The FCC's list of providers who are participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. The EBB will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price.

FCC’s Keep Americans Connected: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the challenges that many Americans will face in the coming months, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently announced the Keep Americans Connected Initiative. In order to ensure that Americans do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity as a result of these exceptional circumstances, he specifically asked broadband and telephone service providers, and trade associations, to take the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. Check to see if your provider has signed the pledge.

FCC Lifeline Rules Waived: The FCC announced changes to waive Lifeline program rules to assist program participants potentially affected by the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and aid community efforts to slow its spread. The Lifeline program plays an important role in ensuring that low-income Americans have access to affordable communications services by providing monthly discounts on broadband and voice services to qualifying consumers.

Free and Low-Cost Internet Plans: NDIA’s list of current offers from major ISPs that will help low-income households to acquire service at no cost, or at very affordable prices. Most have eligibility limitations linked to income or program enrollment. The list also includes established, nationally available low-cost plans offered by nonprofit organizations.

TechforLearners: As part of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s COVID-19 technology initiative, American technology companies were called on to make online learning resources more accessible for teachers, parents, and students. As a result, the technology industry has launched a new resource for educators, administrators, and public officials who are turning to online learning as coronavirus response disrupts the school year.

TSIN Educational Resources: Parents, teachers, and students are adjusting to life at home and learning remotely. The Tennessee Stem Innovation Network team has pulled together a list of some of their favorite educational resources.

Hot Spot Locations
Click the links below for hot spot maps for each broadband provider. Comcast, for instance, has made their Xfinity WiFi hotspots located in businesses and outdoor locations available to anyone for free – including non-Xfinity internet subscribers.

Provider Listing
In response to the quarantine, several broadband providers are temporarily offering free internet service, waiving disconnect and late fees, providing access to wi-fi hot spots, reducing data-usage limitations and other measures to help people at home access the services they need. Click on your provider below to learn the steps they're taking to address connectivity needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Broadband Provider Operational Resources
As broadband providers continue to maintain your operations during the pandemic so that communities can access the connectivity they need, find instructions below for protecting your workforce such as what to do for your employees and facilities as well as guidelines regarding manufacturing and plant operations from the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Public Service