Tennessee State Franchising Bill Signed Into Law


Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen has signed a state cable franchising bill into law, ending two years of competitive lobbying by the cable industry and AT&T Corp.

The law, signed this week by Bredesen, allows AT&T and other new providers to deploy broadband services in the state 10 days after they make a complete application to the office of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, which oversees utilities in the state. Incumbent operators can decide whether to opt in on July 1, or remain with their current local franchise. New providers must decide whether to apply for state authority within one year.

Local governments are not allowed to levy local fees or taxes on the state-authorized providers, but they do retain authority for overseeing customer service standards, and may seek mediation on behalf of consumers for perceived service breaches.Customers can also reach out to the TRA for assistance with service disputes.

New providers will be given 43 months to pass at least 30 % of their declared service areas. Of that, 25% must be low income households.