State leaders are asking for feedback about broadband Internet services. (Screenshot: Staff)

After leaders across the state toldTennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd that lack of broadband access may hurt economic development, he announced Tuesday the launch of astatewide assessment of broadband access and usage in Tennessee.

“Tennessee’s economic future is directly tied to our broadband access,” Boyd said in a prepared statement. “Broadband access impacts our quality of life, educational opportunities, healthcare and our businesses’ ability to compete. We must measure who has broadband Internet access and how they are using it.”

A survey of businesses and households begins today and continues through March 15. Businesses and residents may take the online assessment here.

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Boyd said in a news release that the department’s assessment is an “impartial survey of broadband access, adoption and usage in Tennessee’s rural, suburban and urban communities.”

After the survey Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development leaders will offer strategies to increase broadband utilizationin the state.

In addition to the demand assessment, state leaders will partner with the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders to identify access gaps and evaluate options and costs to build out unserved and underserved areas of the state, according to a news release.

The state’s economic development leaders will also offer recommendations for operational and funding models.

The department will provide a full report and policy recommendations derived from the assessment to Gov. Bill Haslam in June.

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community DevelopmentAssistant Commissioner for Rural Development Amy New said broadband access is crucial to driving workforce development and furthering entrepreneurism in rural areas.

She also said the department will work with local governments, economic development organizations and the industry to drive participation in the assessment.

“High-speed Internet access has become a standard need for businesses and educational institutions around the world, and rural Tennessee is no different,” New said in a prepared statement. “Help us make sure every Tennessean’s voice is heard on this important topic by taking the survey.”

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