Major legislation to accelerate investment in 5G technology deployment in Tennessee receives final approval

NASHVILLE – The Senate approved legislation today to accelerate investment in mobile broadband infrastructure and prepare the State of Tennessee for the next wave of economic development in the digital economy via 5G technology.  Senate Bill 2504, sponsored by Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), creates a uniform, statewide and predictable application and deployment process for small cell wireless broadband providers no matter what community is being served.  Once implemented, it would enhance existing networks and encourage wireless broadband providers to invest in the latest small cell technology.

“When installed, these small cells will increase capacity to handle a huge amount of data,” Senator Ketron said. “There could be anywhere from ten to one hundred times faster connectivity than what we currently have with 4G. Over six million Tennessee wireless consumers want this technology, local governments want this technology, and the providers want to deliver it.  This bill will help accomplish this for communities across the state.”

The legislation creates a predictable “how to manual” for providers and local governments to work together to manage the right-of-ways and to get investment deployed as soon as possible.  While the legislation calls for a statewide application process to reduce local hurdles, it affirms that local governments retain their nondiscriminatory authority to:

  • manage placement of utility poles and facilities in the right of way;
  • establish aesthetic plans that govern facilities in the right of way;
  • protect historic districts;
  • manage and protect areas with underground utilities;
  • require damage repair in the right of way;
  • manage and reject any deployment based on public safety concerns; and,
  • apply right of way permitting and fees.

“The world is operating at a much faster pace,” added Ketron.  “This bill will change our world as we currently know it on many activities from telemedicine to texting, and from documentation to autonomous vehicles, because of the connectivity speed through the bandwidth that 5G brings.”

Studies show that deployment of 5G alone will create more than 16,000 new jobs in Tennessee.  It would also lead to more than $1 billion in investment and grow the state GDP by nearly $3 billion.

Presently 14 other states have passed legislation to make investment easier, with 19 considering similar legislation this year.

The bill now goes to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature.

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