CLIC Announces Strong Support for Two TN Bills to Remove Restrictions on Municipal and Co-operative Broadband Networks

On March 6, 2017, CLIC and 14 prominent public and private-sector companies and organizations announced strong support for two Tennessee bills, HB970 (SB1058) and HB1410 (SB1045)  that will authorize municipal electric utilities and cooperatives to finally serve many currently unserved or underserved rural businesses and citizens. According to the CLIC letters of support, these bills will not only remove barriers, but will also incentivize public-private network deployments.

In separate letters to the House and Senate committees, CLIC and fellow co-signers note how municipalities and cooperatives in Tennessee have been subject to  legislatively imposed barriers for too long. These barriers have harmed both the public and private sectors by retarding or delaying economic growth, preventing the creation or retention of jobs around the State, particularly in rural areas, hampering workforce development, and diminishing the quality of life in Tennessee.

According to the signatories, “in many communities in Tennessee and across America, particularly in rural areas, the current communications service providers are unable or unwilling to invest in advanced communications networks rapidly enough to enable the communities to stay abreast of their peers elsewhere in America and around the world.  Communities should be free of artificial barriers to be able to do their part to help bring affordable high-capacity broadband connectivity to all Americans and to advance America’s global competitiveness.”

The letters state that SB1058 and SB1045 (HB 970 and HB 1410) “would be a step in the right direction.” They would be “good for Tennessee communities, particularly rural communities, good for the private sector, particularly high-technology companies, and good for America’s global competitiveness.”

SB1045 is set for a hearing in the Senate Business and Utilities Subcommittee today,  March 7, and HB970 has been placed in the House Business and Utilities Committee for review. The bills were sponsored by three different Republicans: HB970 (and its companion Senate Bill 1058) by Rep. Dan Howell (R-District 22) and Senator Janice Bowling (R-District 16) , and HB1410 (and its companion Senate Bill 1045), by Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-District 40) and Senator Janice Bowling.

In a significant show of force, the 15 public and private organizations signing onto CLIC’s letters of support represent thousands of public and private utilities of all kinds; hundreds of municipalities and counties across the nation; the fiber industry, dozens of private-sector telecommunications equipment manufacturers, systems builders, and advisors, and major high-tech companies that benefit from the widespread affordable access to advanced broadband networks, including Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Pandora, Paypal, Reddit, Salesforce, Yahoo! and many others. Co-signers included: Atlantic Engineering, CTC Energy & Technology, Fiber to the Home Council, Google, Indeed, Internet Association, National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, Netflix, Next Century Cities, Nokia, OnTrac, Telecommunications Industry Association, Ting Internet, and Utilities Technology Council.

CLIC’s House Business and Utilities Committee letter can be found here; and the Senate  Commerce & Labor Committee letter can be found here.