Citizens Striving to be Part of the 21st Century is a grassroots non-partisan citizen action group that is composed of many people all across the southeast corner of Tennessee.  We are up to 200 members and growing.  Many of us are neighbors who have no wired broadband internet option (or no broadband internet option at all).  Wireless broadband options, such as cell and satellite technology, are often available, but come at a high price.  Other mom-and-pop cable and wireless operations using various technologies can be found in the area, but such companies sometimes find it hard to overcome technical obstacles (such as a line of trees or a hill, for example), lacking the deep pockets to be able to do so.  And these often serve very small local areas, such as an individual neighborhood or a small subsection of homes along a rural road.

So around two years ago, being quite frustrated at the lack of business and educational opportunity offered to ourselves and our families due to the inability to connect to high-speed internet, we began to form together as a loose-knit group who shared a common complaint.  In the last two years we have become increasingly organized and political.    We now recognize our problem is a state wide problem.  We are also connected to other similar groups throughout the state, such as the Need for Speed group in the Tellico Plains/Coker Creek area.

This is a movement that is gathering steam all across the country, especially in rural and semi-rural areas where affordable, fast and effective broadband is simply not available . The movement crosses party lines.  In the Southeast and other areas, many of the biggest supporters are conservative Republicans, who find it hard to run their businesses due to lack of internet capability, and whose children lack the ability to access coursework (college and/or K-12) that is increasingly conveyed online, often in a high-bandwidth video format.  Out west, especially in California, the support is often from the more liberal end of the political spectrum, with high support for municipal-based broadband.  This is an effort to keep prices low and opportunity available to all, as the big telecom’s often do not offer the same rates or connections in all areas of a given large city.

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