Ordinance to expand internet access in Memphis moves in council readings

Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 10:22 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis City Council members unanimously supported Ordinance #5887 on Tuesday, October 24, which would clear the way for the expansion of broadband internet in the Bluff City.

“The fact that we could have a community that has unlimited expansion and capabilities in this vital utility is what we are supportive of,” said Ted Townsend, president and CEO of Greater Memphis Chamber.

Mayor Strickland announced this plan in September saying, “Memphis can become one of the most connected cities in America.”

The ordinance amendment will require private high-speed broadband network developers to put fiber optic cables in 60% of the city and 60% of low-income areas, something that could help make internet access more equitable.

Ted Townsend, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber
Ted Townsend, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber(Action News 5)

“Our broadband and high-speed access is one of the lowest in the nation. So, we have a lot of ground to cover. That’s going to take an enormity of investment and hopefully today is the first step of that,” Townsend said.

While it will create more options for residents, Townsend says it will also help bring more investors to the city.

“Companies are looking at a number of valuations on where they place this investment,” he said. “More of the companies that we are talking to are advanced manufacturing or advanced industries and they require high-speed access.”

Strickland says a company called Meridium has already started working with the city to invest $700 million to build fiber infrastructure and provide fiber to homes and businesses.

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