Overcoming Adversity

Posted: November 19, 2020

TNBA adapts to new health protocols in Nashville

This has been a year full of challenges. But being in the telecommunications industry, we understand adversity. We adapt and do what is necessary to serve those in our communities. We have a long history of meeting adversity head-on to get the job done.

The way our industry handled the challenges of serving our communities during the ongoing global health crisis is no different.

We adopted new protocols to keep our employees and our customers safe. We socially distanced. We worked from home when possible. We sanitized and put on masks. We were forced to make changes, but we never stopped providing our customers with the service they depend on.

But the challenges didn’t stop there.

One of the most important roles of the Tennessee Broadband Association is to monitor government activity in Nashville that could impact our industry. We build close relationships with lawmakers and advocate for legislation that benefits our members and procures funding for rural broadband expansion.

Yet when the General Assembly shut down amid the crisis, our government affairs team had no problem adjusting to the new rules in Nashville while remaining effective advocates for our members.

The General Assembly reopened with new security restrictions. The Senate did not allow anyone inside committee meetings, and the House of Representatives only allowed a small number inside.

But with broadband, the product we promote every day, committee meetings were streamed live, which allowed us to track key legislation as it moved through the system. However, a weakened economy created a new set of challenges.

The budget originally earmarked $25 million for rural broadband expansion, but it was later cut to $15 million.

Fortunately, we have developed close relationships with most of the lawmakers in Nashville, and they support our efforts to close the rural technology gap. Even the new faces that will be sworn in for the upcoming session understand the importance of broadband to rural Tennessee.

The pandemic has made it perfectly clear — broadband is a necessary part of modern life. And just like customer service representatives working from home or service technicians wearing personal protective equipment, our government affairs team has adapted to continue representing our members in Nashville.