The Clement Museum hosted a rural broadband presentation on Thursday night as part of their lecture series “Developing our Communities: Implementing a State-Wide Broadband Strategy.”
The event comes after Governor Bill Haslam signed legislations that encourages rural electric co-operatives to introduce broadband into the rural areas of Tennessee. The bill recognizes that rural electric companies have the ability to bridge the gap between low populated areas and high-speed internet access.
The event featured Amanda Martin, broadband director for the Tennessee Department of economic and Community Development and Keith Carnahan, President & CEO of the Meriwether Lewis Electric Co-operative.
“Broadband is not the same thing as having internet access. Internet is having access to the world wide web, but broadband is specifically high-speed internet access.” Martin says of broadband access.
“We cannot have economic development in our communities unless we have fast, reliable, affordable access to broadband,” Martin continues. Martin is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act including infrastructure grants, digital literacy grants, and the broadband Ready Community designation program.
“There are a lot of different technologies that can provide broadband. It can be over DSL, coaxial cable, fiber, or it could be a wireless technology. They can be wired connections or wireless connections. They can be fixed connections or mobile connections. There’s a lot of different ways that broadband can be provided.” Martin says of the versatility of broadband internet.
It seems that broadband has been a discussion in Dickson County for a while. Carnahan says that everyone in their service areas could see broadband service sooner rather than later.
“We broke our product up into four phases. We’re in phase one right now. We’re going to build into the city areas, the denser areas, of all of our major cities. You start in central area and you build out. We’ll build in the cities and we’ll use the revenue to help fund building out in the rural areas,” Carnahan says.
“Everyone in our service area should have this ability in less than four years,” Carnahan continued.
Meriwether Lewis Electric Co-operative (MLEC) provides electricity to five rural counties in Middle Tennessee including, Lewis, Humphreys, Houston, Perry, and Hickman counties.