Study ranks Tennessee rural broadband expansion as one of nation’s best
Pew Charitable Trust says Volunteer State a model others should follow
Tennessee has been highlighted among a short list of states making real progress on the challenge of expanding rural broadband, according to a new study from the Pew Charitable Trust.
The Tennessean newspaper reported that the study lists the state among nine who are taking the right approach to rural broadband.
“Our member companies have a long history of delivering the technology their communities need to thrive,” says Levoy Knowles, executive director of the Tennessee Broadband Association. “This study is further validation that we have a strong rural broadband program in the state, with our member companies poised to invest $400 million in fiber networks in the next three years alone — on top of the many millions already invested.”
Knowles said the state’s Broadband Accessibility grants, highlighted in the Pew study, have been a critical tool in helping providers expand fiber. “Coupled with local investments, these grants have accelerated the progress our member companies have made in extending broadband service across rural Tennessee,” he says.
Kathryn de Wit, who manages Pew’s broadband initiative, says Tennessee’s grant program gives other states a model to emulate.
“Tennessee is doing several things right,” she told the Tennessean. “The state’s grant program is noteworthy. It has built relationships with providers. It ensures that it’s meeting technology not just for today but for the future.”
Federal funds for broadband expansion have also flowed into the state. Several TNBA members were recently awarded grants and loans from the ReConnect America program. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue visited Tennessee to make the announcement.
Knowles says broadband providers are working together to efficiently maximize resources and meet the challenge of serving rural Tennessee.
“It’s gratifying for our member companies, and the state government, to be recognized in the Pew Charitable Trust study for the progress we’re making together,” he says.
The Pew Charitable Trust is an independent, nonprofit, non-governmental organization with the goal of “improving public policy, informing the public, and invigorating civic life.”