As Tennessee legislation encourages electric cooperatives to enter the broadband business, a new website strives to make such partnerships easier: www.partnersinbroadband.com.
The site designed to connect utility providers was developed by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, the National Information Solutions Cooperative, NRTC and National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp.
“Too often electric companies and telcos don’t talk to each other,” says Jasper Schneider, vice president of member and industry of the National Information Solutions Cooperative. “But this is a great opportunity for them to do more work together and keep shining some light on making a difference.”
Electrics and broadband
Tennessee’s Broadband Accessibility Act will provide new opportunities for rural telcos, says Levoy Knowles, executive director of Tennessee Telecommunications Association.
“Our members, both the independent companies and the cooperatives, are optimistic about working with the electric co-ops to make broadband available to many more people in our state,” he says.
The legislation encourages electric providers to enter the broadband business, and the TTA encourages partnerships. Telcos, leaders in developing broadband, might manage a network while the electric cooperatives focus on hanging fiber optic cables alongside electric lines.
The Broadband Accessibility Act, called Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature piece of legislation for 2017, allows electric cooperatives to provide broadband and TV services separately from their electric power service.
“TTA, Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, the governor and many others have expressed their desire to see all Tennesseans have the opportunities a reliable high-speed broadband network can provide,” Knowles says. “Our lawmakers have done a good job finding a workable solution to help connect many of the rural residents who have the hardest time getting connected.