As rural internet service providers, Tennessee Broadband Association (TNBA) members know better than anyone how much progress we have made to close the technology gap across the state. We know broadband is life-changing, and we work tirelessly to expand access for everyone.
Our successes were evident in a recent House Finance Subcommittee meeting, where Dr. Matthew Owen of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) said 94% of Tennessee residents live in census blocks where at least one person has broadband available. This amount is up from 88% last year.
Owen also reported a 58% broadband adoption rate, which is up 18% from the previous adoption rate of 40%.
These figures prove that our efforts are working. We are making a difference in the lives of Tennesseans, and state leaders are taking notice. They too see that broadband is no longer a luxury. It is a vital part of daily life.
Governor Bill Lee and the Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe recently announced $14.9 million in Broadband Accessibility Grants in which $9.3 million was awarded to TNBA members.
The grants will be matched to create a $36 million investment that will provide broadband access to 17,800 unserved Tennesseans, spanning 7,120 homes and businesses. These grants are in addition to Governor Lee’s recent $200 million pledge for broadband expansion. These funds will allow us to continue providing broadband access, quickly and efficiently, to all corners of the state.
We are fortunate to have state leaders that understand the importance of helping fund broadband expansion. They support our mission, and they support a connected Tennessee.