Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act
There are three main components to the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act:
Investment – TBAA provides funding over three years through grants as part of a plan to focus on the state’s unserved areas.
- Establishes the “Broadband Accessibility Grant Program,” providing grant funding over a three-year period to broadband providers to encourage deployment to unserved homes and businesses. Grant funding has been appropriated at $10M in FY 2018, $15M in FY 2019, and $20M in FY2020.
Deregulation – TBAA permits the state’s private, nonprofit electric cooperatives to provide broadband service.
- Electric cooperatives, previously restricted from providing retail broadband services, are uniquely situated to assist in bridging the broadband accessibility gap with experience serving areas with lower population densities and providing universal service throughout their territories.
- TBAA also strengthens protections that prevent electric cooperatives from using electric system assets to subsidize broadband services and ensures that cooperative participation in the broadband market will not limit consumers’ choices.
Education – Because broadband accessibility without adoption accomplishes little, adoption efforts must be included in the State’s plans to maximize the economic impact and increase the return on investment of State funds.
- Through the Rural Task Force and other coordinated efforts, existing programs and resources will be evaluated and leveraged to drive broadband adoption.
- TBAA provides grant funding opportunities to the state’s local libraries to help residents improve their digital literacy skills and maximize the benefits of broadband.