Tennessee, which imposes controversial restrictions on local broadband networks, may change its laws to let electric cooperatives offer Internet service.

But even with the proposed expansion, Tennessee would still prevent cities and towns from offering retail broadband services outside their borders.
Tennessee Gov.

Bill Haslam, a Republican, last week announced legislation that would let private, non-profit electric cooperatives provide broadband.

The state has 23 electric co-ops that provide energy to 2.5 million residents, about 37 percent of the Tennessee population.
“Electric cooperatives, currently restricted from providing retail broadband services, are uniquely situated to assist in bridging the broadband accessibility gap with experience serving areas with lower population densities and providing universal service throughout their territories,” a bill summary says.

The bill would still “prevent electric cooperatives from using electric system assets to subsidize broadband services.”
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