Change laws, allow broadband access

Change laws, allow broadband access

Governor Haslam, many residents in parts of Hamilton and Bradley counties, along with the rest of the state, are only able to get Internet via cellphone providers or a dish. To get television, we need an additional dish on the roof. None of these options are consistently reliable. The data plans are limited and expensive.

If we really want to be the state that supports education, then all the tools necessary for success must be made available for all residents, and this includes high-speed broadband access. I encourage you to push for repeal of the outdated laws and allow municipal utilities to provide broadband service. ATT, Comcast and Charter are against this but refuse to provide the service to rural Tennessee. They say private business should not have to compete with municipal utilities. Follow the money, and you will see the private telecoms get more federal funds than municipal utilities to service rural areas.

We need EPB to expand in this area as it is the only company willing to provide broadband to underserved areas.

Bill Perry

Read this letter and more at

Posted on February 3, 2016 .

10-Year-Old Ashlynn Speaks Out

At last week's community meeting, we heard from 10 year old Ashlyn. Please take a moment to listen to her thoughts on living without high speed internet service. Do you know of other young students across our state facing the same obstacles Ashlyn faces? If so, tell us about it at

Posted on November 6, 2015 .

Why Local Control Matters

What if your community didn’t have paved roads? All of the in-town streets were one-lane dirt paths, and the more rural areas only had beaten trails. Would you want state regulations to limit your options for improving your community’s roadways?

That’s the situation Tennesseans face when it comes to fiber optic infrastructure. Copper lines were state-of-the-art for telecommunications during the Civil War. Cellular and satellite data rates are slower still and even more expensive to consumers. 

And yet, big telecom and cable, which are authorized to expand, refuse to deploy fiber to all but a handful of Tennesseans—and those are mostly people who already have another fiber optic option.

In contrast, seven of Tennessee’s municipal utilities have successfully deployed community-wide fiber optic networks, but state law prohibits them from expanding beyond their current service area—even though local leaders in other communities are inviting them to expand to serve their citizens.

In today’s world, the Internet is as important as good roads to your community’s ability to attract industry, support existing business growth, educate your young people, retrain your adults for emerging job opportunities, and increasingly for healthcare delivery.

Fiber optic networks provide key competitive advantages for addressing all of these community challenges—some of the toughest we face as Tennesseans. 

Is it right to let outsiders decide which Tennessee communities will remain competitive?

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Posted on May 20, 2015 .

Tennessee Broadband Expansion Bill on Hold Until 2016

Nashville, TN (March 31, 2015) 

Advocates for broadband expansion in Tennessee announced that efforts to extend community-based fiber optic networks are being placed on hold until the next legislative session because there is not enough support among state lawmakers to change a state regulation that prevents the expansion of municipal fiber optic systems.

According to Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma), who sponsored legislation that would allow municipal utilities to provide fiber optic services beyond their current service area, she withdrew the measure to make it easier to re-introduce the bill next year. “Thanks to a growing number of Tennesseans, who are contacting their representatives to communicate their critical need for broadband services, we made more progress this legislative session than ever before,” Senator Bowling said. “Next year, I hope the needs of the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans with little or no broadband service will override the vested interests of the legacy carriers who refuse to serve them while lobbying to prevent community-based providers from meeting the needs of the people in our state.”

In addition, Senator Bowling said removing Tennessee’s territorial restrictions reinforces free-market competition. “Currently, most Tennesseans have no choice when it comes to broadband,” said Senator Bowling. “The lucky ones have one broadband provider and many have no choice for broadband services at all. The Tennessee Fiber Optic Communities are proving competition is good both for customers and the competitive businesses themselves. I want to see that kind of competition spread across the state.”

Harold DePriest, president and CEO of EPB and chair of the Tennessee Fiber Optic Communities, pointed to the value of giving local elected leaders the freedom and responsibility to make infrastructure decisions for the betterment of the communities they serve. “State officials would never tell city or county leaders that they couldn’t build roads for local residents and businesses,” DePriest said. “In the 21st Century, broadband infrastructure is just as critical as good roadways to the economic development and quality of life of a community. Allowing investor-driven entities headquartered in other states to pick which Tennessee communities win and which lose when it comes to this critical infrastructure undermines the fundamental principle of local control.”

Those interested in learning more about how to support broadband expansion in Tennessee are encouraged to sign up to receive updates.

Posted on May 19, 2015 .