Tennessee’s rural broadband providers have adopted the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge” to ensure their customers can stay connected during the COVID-19 crisis.
The independent and cooperatively owned companies of the Tennessee Broadband Association have announced they will not terminate internet service or apply late fees for any accounts that go past due during the next 60 days due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Those companies with public Wi-Fi hotspots will also open them for use by students and remote workers to access from their vehicles.
Any customers needing assistance with their account due to hardships caused by the pandemic should contact their local broadband provider.
As the novel coronavirus disrupts daily routines, many are turning to the internet for solutions. Businesses are allowing employees to telework, schools are trying out new distance learning tools, and doctors are relying on telehealth to care for some patients remotely. All of those services are made possible by high-speed broadband connections.
“This current health crisis underscores the importance of broadband in our lives, and we understand that rural Tennesseans will be relying on our services now more than ever,” says Levoy Knowles, executive director of the TNBA. “Whether they are working or learning from home, or if they simply need to communicate with family and friends, they need access to high-speed internet — and we want to make sure they have the tools they need.”
Tennessee Broadband Association member companies include:
- Ardmore Telephone Company
- Ben Lomand Connect
- Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative
- Concord Telephone Exchange, Inc.
- DTC Communications
- Highland Telephone Cooperative
- Humphreys County Telephone Company
- Loretto Telecom
- North Central Telephone Cooperative
- Scott County Telephone Cooperative
- SkyLine Membership Corporation
- TDS TELECOM – Knoxville Office
- TEC/Friendship Division
- Tellico Telephone Company
- Tennessee Telephone Company
- Twin Lakes
- United Communications
- WK&T Telecommunications Cooperative
- Highland Communications
- iRis Networks
- North Central Communications
These companies have invested millions of dollars in recent years to increase broadband access, with the goal of providing fiber optic internet service across rural Tennessee. “As our nation’s response to this crisis transitions from mitigation to economic recovery,” says Knowles, “our members stand ready to play a major role by supporting job growth and economic development through continued expansion of fiber networks throughout Tennessee’s small towns and rural communities.”