Initiative Announced to Create a Connected Tennessee

"Connected Tennessee will ensure that we have the broadband foundation and computer literacy that will ensure that Tennesseans everywhere can realize the opportunities that are possible when all communities are truly connected."

by / May 14, 2007

The Tennessee Broadband Task Force announced today that national non-profit Connected Nation has begun work toward ensuring the state becomes a leader in the wired world by launching a statewide initiative called Connected Tennessee.

The Task Force, chaired by Senator Roy Herron and Rep. Mark Maddox, includes representatives from the telecommunications industry as well as representatives from a number of state agencies. The task force was established to study the challenges related to providing high-speed Internet (commonly referred to as broadband) to all Tennesseans.

According to the task force report issued in January, "Broadband expansion is to the 21st century what rural electrification was to the 20th century ... High-speed Internet access ... is critically important to Tennessee's future, especially in jobs, education and healthcare."

In its initial recommendations to Gov. Bredesen and the General Assembly, the task force cited the model established by Connected Nation in Kentucky and encouraged the initiation of similar efforts in Tennessee. Bredesen's administration took swift action to ensure that appropriate steps were taken to enable such an effort for every community in the state, said the task force in a release.

According to Bredesen, "My administration has laid out an aggressive agenda for Tennessee to become a leader in educating our children, providing quality healthcare, and creating economic development opportunities. Broadband technology is an enabler for programs such as distance learning, telemedicine, e-government, and for creating an environment that helps us grow jobs in all parts of Tennessee. Connected Tennessee will ensure that we have the broadband foundation and computer literacy that will ensure that Tennesseans everywhere can realize the opportunities that are possible when all communities are truly connected."

Connected Nation, a national non-profit organization that specializes in increasing technology access and literacy will work through a Nashville-based subsidiary, Connected Tennessee, to deliver a statewide program whose mission is to develop and implement effective strategies for technology deployment, use and literacy in Tennessee. As an independent non-profit, the organization will work with a wide array of Tennessee entities, both public and private, to accelerate the availability and use of technology towards creating:

  • A better business environment;
  • More effective community and economic development;
  • Improved healthcare;
  • Enhanced education; and
  • More efficient government.

Connected Tennessee will work in partnership with telecommunications providers, information technology companies, public agencies, business leaders, community leaders, researchers and universities in an effort to meet five primary goals, which include:

  • Affordable broadband availability for all Tennessee;
  • Dramatically improved use of computers and the Internet by all Tennesseans;
  • "eCommunity Leadership Teams" formed in every county -- local leaders who assemble to develop and implement technology growth strategies for local government, business and industry, education, healthcare, agriculture, libraries, tourism and community-based organizations;
  • A policy and regulatory framework that encourages continued investment in communications and information technologies year after year; and
  • A meaningful use of the Internet among all Tennessee communities, to improve citizen services and promote economic development through e-government, virtual education and online healthcare.