Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act
The TBAA focuses on providing broadband resources in the State of Tennessee's unserved and underserved areas. Through the Broadband Accessibility Grant Program, broadband providers will be able to receive grant funding over a three-year period to encourage broadband deployment to areas in needs. Grant funding has been appropriated at $10M in FY 2018, $15M in FY 2019, and $20M in FY2020.
In the past, electric cooperatives have been prohibited from providing retail broadband services in their areas. However, these cooperatives are uniquely situated to aid in the deployment of broadband throughout the state. The TBAA permits private, nonprofit electric cooperatives to begin providing broadband services. This change can help to bridge the broadband accessibility gap as electric cooperatives have experience serving areas with low population densities. In order to ensure that consumers' choices are not limited by this development, the TBAA strengthens protections that prevent electric cooperatives from using electric system assets to subsidize broadband services.
While broadband infrastructure is essential, ensuring that Tennesseans have the ability to effectively use the internet is equally important. The TBAA provides grant funding opportunities to the State of Tennessee's local libraries to help improve local residents' digital literacy skills and ultimately maximize the potential benefits of increased broadband accessibility. Through the Rural Task Force and other coordinated efforts, the State will focus on evalutating existing programs and driving digital adoption throughout Tennessee.