Broadband Takes Center Stage on Capitol Hill

Posted: April 21, 2021

TNBA attends NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association Legislative and Policy Conference

Rows of people in zoom meeting on computerThe Tennessee Broadband Association (TNBA) is honored to help our members advocate for their customers on the importance of fast, reliable broadband in the communities they serve.

The association takes seriously the need of the many unserved and underserved Tennesseans who don’t have access to such technology. That’s why it’s important to bring this need before legislators, lobbying for bills that will help our members and against those that don’t.

In mid-April, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association held their annual Legislative + Policy Conference online. The focus of the virtual conference was to advocate for advanced broadband in rural America, something the TNBA and our members do every day.

The NTCA shares the same vested interest in telecommunications legislation and regulatory policies, and the conference is a great opportunity to voice TNBA members’ needs and concerns.

During the conference, the nearly 400 attendees had the opportunity to hear from members of Congress, FCC staff and Biden administration officials. Topics discussed included the temporary FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, ReConnect, Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, as well as the American Jobs Plan.

One of the most influential parts of the conference was the opportunity to sit down with Senate and House leaders to discuss RDOF accountability and transparency, broadband infrastructure, reforms, and other issues relevant to broadband for TNBA members during online Capitol Hill visits. The TNBA group had seven meetings with legislators, with between 13 to 29 participants in each meeting to discuss specific issues such as infrastructure and flexible financing.

Ben Lomand Connect, BTC Fiber, DTC Communications, RTFC, Twin Lakes, Highland Telephone Cooperative, TDS, Loretto Telecom and NCTC are all TNBA members who participated in the online Capitol Hill visits during the conference.

TNBA members were able to meet virtually with Kelsey Wolfgram, legislative director, for Rep. Tim Burchett; Hannah Russell, legislative assistant, for Rep. Scott DesJarlais; Rep. John Rose and Leah Bane, director of operations; Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Nicolle Miranda, scheduler, and Holly Hendrix, legislative assistant; Rep. Mark Green, Jerrica Proferes, scheduler, and William Turton, legislative assistant; Jon Adame, general counsel, John Clement, senior field director, and Srdjan Simunovic, legislative fellow, for Sen. Marsha Blackburn; and Susan Falconer, chief of staff, for Rep. Diana Harshbarger. The TNBA would like to thank you for your participation and dedication to serving Tennessee.

While we’ve made progress in closing the digital divide, only 46.3% of Tennesseans have access to fiber broadband, according to Some parts of the state have fast, reliable connectivity while other portions are struggling.

We must continue to bring Tennesseans’ needs before legislators and work together to close this technological gap so that one day all have fast, reliable broadband statewide, improving their quality of life so they can live, work and play without limitations.