Tennessee bill would provide build-out incentives

A new telecom franchising bill in the Tennessee state legislature contains a provision to encourage service providers to expand high speed Internet deployment across the state. In order to receive a statewide franchise, incumbent providers would have to meet certain requirements:

Large telephone companies that become video providers must deliver that service to 30% of their existing service area within 3 1/2 years. But those companies can decrease the number of homes which get video if they deploy broadband services to areas that don't currently have such services, or areas that are determined to be undeserved.

The bill also allows local authorities to subsidize high speed Internet build-out if the Tennessee Regulatory Authority determines the private sector alone won't invest in expanded infrastructure.

The Tennessee state government has a strong recent history of making high speed Internet access a priority. Last spring Governor Phil Bredesen launched Connected Tennessee, a non-profit organization charged with working to expand high speed Internet access. Earlier this year, Connected Tennessee released a report on Internet speeds across the state -- a report which, while insightful, didn't address the portion of the state with no high speed access at all. That's where the new franchising bill in the Legislature comes in, making build-out requirements for service providers.

As Governor Bredesen said upon the report's release in January:

"Technology adoption and economic development go hand in hand, and we want to work to ensure that Tennesseans everywhere can realize the opportunities that are possible when all communities are truly connected."

Tennessee Bill Would Broaden Broadband (Multichannel News)

Tennessee Creates Non-Profit To Improve High Speed Internet (Speed Matters)

Connected Tennessee

Connected Tennessee releases county-level Internet speed map (Speed Matters)