ECD report: 13% of Tennesseans lack broadband

News release from Department of Economic and Community Development
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development released today a study it commissioned to assess the current state of broadband access in Tennessee and options for increasing access and utilization.

Strategic Networks Group and NEO Connect, global leaders in broadband consulting, conducted the study on behalf of the department.

According to the study, 13 percent of Tennesseans, or 834,545 people, do not have access to broadband at the federal standard of 25 megabytes per second of download speed and 3 megabytes per second of upload speed.

More than 23,000 Tennessee residents and businesses responded to the survey portion of the study, which took place between January and March of this year.

Businesses participating in the assessment reported broadband enabled 43 percent of all net new jobs and 66 percent of revenues. In addition, 34 percent of businesses classified broadband as essential to selecting their location, and 56 percent noted that it was essential to remain in their location. Sixteen percent of economic development agencies reported that businesses frequently chose not to locate in an area due to insufficient broadband.

“The department commissioned this report to establish benchmarks on broadband access in Tennessee,” TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd said. “We need to evaluate these options and begin a meaningful dialogue.”

The study is broken into three parts:
•Internet Connectivity and Utilization benchmarks current access and utilization;
•eStrategy outlines recommendations and options for increasing access and utilization;
•Considerations and Best Practices for Statewide Broadband Initiatives details best practices and lessons learned from other states’ broadband initiatives.

The report was delivered to Gov. Bill Haslam, the Tennessee General Assembly, TACIR, members of the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders.

“The information in this report is a starting point to advance the conversation about broadband access in our state,” Haslam said. “An internal working group will review the report and have discussions with stakeholders to develop potential solutions to close the gap on broadband access in Tennessee.”

“Not every option included in the report may be the answer for Tennessee, nor is there one simple solution,” Boyd added. “With the menu of options provided in the study, decision makers can begin a dialogue to find a win-win-win combination to ensure our communities have the broadband they need.”

The report is available to the public at http://www.tn.gov/assets/entities/ecd/attachments/broadband-study.pdf

About Strategic Networks Group (SNG)
SNG is a group of broadband economists developing strategies that maximize economic and social returns from broadband investments. SNG provides evidence-based recommendations to communities, regions, and States who are looking for proactive ways to protect and grow local business profitability through broadband utilization. SNG’s holistic approach looks at both the supply (availability) and demand (utilization) of broadband and how addressing each strategically drives economic development. Learn more about SNG at www.sngroup.com.

About NEO Fiber
At the forefront of broadband initiatives, from planning to execution, NEO is one of the nation’s leaders in planning, engineering and developing strategies for community networks. With extensive experience in both the public and private sector, the NEO team is able to apply real-world business sense to every type of project. NEO has helped communities across the United States create successful and sustainable networks that meet each community’s specific needs. Visit NEO online at www.neofiber.net.