Sunday, September 19

Letters to the editor

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Where’s our broadband?

Hi, David,

I thoroughly enjoyed your editorial about the electrification of rural Texas in the 1930s. What really struck a chord with me was the last three paragraphs.

My wife and I are searching for a rural location to build our retirement home here in Middle Tennessee. I have another five to seven years in my career, and as a “remote” employee, I live and die by my internet connection. You see where this is going — all the beautiful property we find is beyond where broadband reaches, and, in most cases, that even includes cellular 3G/4G LTE coverage. And, yes, I’ve been turned down by cable TV companies even though I’ve offered to pay all the construction costs of the “last mile” to connect a property.

What are the electric cooperatives in Tennessee doing to advance this cause?

Gary Messmer


Hello, David,

I just finished reading your article in The Tennessee Magazine and was wondering why Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation can’t provide internet service to rural homes.

My family and I just built a house in Franklin, but the neighborhood is in an area where we don’t have access to the internet except via satellite. My question is why can other electric providers such as Chattanooga Power Board provide internet services but our electric cooperative cannot?

My wife and kids are ready to sell and move back where there’s decent internet service. We just completed construction and moved in December!

Scott Collins

Editor’s note: We asked General Manager David Callis, whose June 2016 column is referenced, to shed some light on rural broadband.

While electric cooperatives in several neighboring states offer broadband internet and video to their members, Tennessee law prohibits our electric cooperatives from providing retail broadband services to our members. Changing state law isn’t the only consideration, however. Because we serve less-populated areas, the cost to deliver broadband is much higher than in more densely populated urban and suburban areas. Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are currently exploring possible avenues to help our rural communities receive this vital service.

At our core are our cooperative principles — and Concern for Community is one of those. Just like electricity in the 1930s, broadband has become an essential service. Today, we can’t imagine a home without electricity, and I hope that in the (near) future, we won’t be able to imagine a home without broadband availability.

David Callis
General Manager, Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association

Lights by kerosene

I am a long-time member of Holston Electric Cooperative and have been trying to reach Mr. Bill Carey. I have been a member for more than 60 years (on and off) and a regular member for the past 50 years. I came to East Tennessee about 68 or 69 years ago.

When first arriving here, Holston Electric Cooperative was in its infancy, and areas only about three miles outside town didn’t have electric service. I’d like to share our experiences with Mr. Carey.

Amanda McPeek
Rogersville, Holston EC

Editor’s note: Thank you for the story idea. We love to hear from members who remember when the lights came on.


Our offices receive lots of mail, but one piece caught our eye recently. Here’s a young artist’s resourceful take on the “self-addressed, stamped envelope.”



About Author

Robin Conover has spent the last 33 years documenting the people and places of Tennessee with The Tennessee Magazine. After graduating from Murray State University, Robin began working for magazine in October 1988 as a communications specialist and photojournalist. She now serves as TECA vice president of communications and editor of The Tennessee Magazine. Her interest in preserving the environment and Tennessee’s beautiful natural areas has led her down many miles of trails to capture thousands of images. Robin is currently a board member of the Friends of Radnor Lake, a nonprofit in Nashville. Robin’s images can be seen in greeting cards, calendars, books and at a few fine-art shows she participates in each year.

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