Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
The Birth of the Texas State Broadband Development Office - Episode 515 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Greg Conte, Director of the Texas Broadband Development Office, and ILSR Outreach Team Lead DeAnne Cuellar. The state of Texas finds itself in a common position these days: last year it created a small office that, today, is suddenly faced with dispersing more than a billion dollars in new infrastructure funding through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program.
Greg talks about the challenges of staffing up and addressing the lack of data about where broadband is and isn't as a starting point for future work. He shares the process of developing a minimum viable product for mapping as well as the additional goal of integrating digital equity goals and socioeconomic data into a mapping effort.
Christopher, Greg, and DeAnne then dig into the implications of the new BEAD rules recently clarified by the NTIA, and how to square a mandate not to disciminate against community solutions with a Texas state law which places barriers in front of municipalities. He shares how HB5, passed by the Texas legislature last year, lets nonprofit and for-profit entities apply for funding, but privileges for-profit entities what applications are submitted for the same. The group talks about the balancing act of operating an unequal grant-making marketplace with a charge to efficiently and effectively address the digital divide with historic federal broadband funding.
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Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
Greg Conte (00:07):
Board, we're going to address the issues here and the best way that will suit Texan.
Christopher Mitchell (00:12):
Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Christopher Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and I'm in St. Paul, Minnesota, and I'm excited to be talking with Greg Conti, the director of the Texas Broadband Development Office. Welcome to the show.
Greg Conte (00:30):
Awesome. Thanks Christopher. Longtime listener, first time caller.
Christopher Mitchell (00:33):
Ah, wonderful. And then we have DeAnne Cuellar, who's no stranger to the show. Welcome.
Thank you, Chris.
Given your San Antonio connections, I feel like you have an automatic in for every Texas episode. So and since you were the one that suggested this, I felt like we should make sure we invite you to it. I actually though, came up with the most important question and given your background, Greg do you pronounce it controller or comptroller?
Greg Conte (01:00):
I pronounce it personally. I pronounce it comptroller because that's the way it's spelled, but it's certainly an internal debate that's continuously happening within the agency and outside the agency as well. But I go by comptroller.
Christopher Mitchell (01:13):
Okay. And for people who aren't familiar, we're gonna, we'll get into a more broadband stuff, but just for your background, I always feel like it's, it's a really important job in office. You worked in it or with it. And what do they do there?
Greg Conte (01:24):
So, Texas comptroller's, essentially the CFO f of the State of Texas, comptroller Haggar wears many hats. he's a statewide elected official. He is, like I said, the c the CFO money coming in, money coming out. the Chief Tax Collector. he's also the chief procurement officer in the state the treasurer. so we're doing a lot of things here in the state when it comes to just finance itself. you know, Texas doesn't have a state property tax, but we, we have a property tax assistance group. We have a procurement group. we have a vast array of expertise in the Texas Comptroller's office. and to add to the portfolio, we now have the Texas Broadband Office here in in the comptroller's
Christopher Mitchell (02:08):
Office. And, and I think it's a helpful place to start because this is an office and your background working with this and auditing and that sort of thing, you're, you're familiar with all this and how the money comes in and out, and I'm, you know, as we look at how different state offices staff up, I'm always curious about the background of the people. But for you, I feel like the amount of the money may be less intimidating, but the, the scale of the work is. And so I guess my second question then was how scary is your job right now as you're like one of the largest states, you do have a significant amount of money coming in, you know, you've got challenges from the rural to the urban. you know, just tell me a little bit about how you think about all that.
Greg Conte (02:46):
The Broadband Development office, BDO was created by HB five, last legislative session. the state legislature, like I said, put it in, put BD within the comptroller's office. as of last year at this point, last, I was managing our data analysis and transparency groups within the, the comptroller's office. And during the list session, we did a bill analysis on HB five. And one of the questions we always ask is, how many FTEs does this new initiative, you know, require
Christopher Mitchell (03:15):
And for full-time equivalent employees,
Greg Conte (03:17):
Full-time employees? Yes. And I kind of looked at another guy in our office, I was like, I don't know, let's just go with five. Right? Five makes sense. that seems so, you know, we, they had a, a $5 million allocation to the office. Five makes sense. Why not? Bill passes Fast forward, I decided to raise my hand of volunteer to up lead this office. We get the 5 million, we get the five, the five FCE cap. You say,
Christopher Mitchell (03:39):
Who came up with this number? <laugh>
Greg Conte (03:41):
<laugh>, who's, yeah, who's responsible for this? and then, you know, ARPA passed. Well, then we get the ARPA funding, which is that 500.5 through the Coronavirus Capital Projects fund. And I'm like, oh, no, 500 million. What are we gonna do with that now? And and then as a moving forward, then November happens and I j a, the infrastructure bill passes and 65 million is going to broadband. 42 billion is going to states for infrastructure. Let's do some quick back of the envelope math right here. Oh boy. Now we're looking at one to 4 billion coming through. I'm still at, at a five FTE cap right now. If, if the money isn't daunting enough, if the outreach and the scope of what we're doing isn't, you know, frightening enough, it's the fact that right now I'm operating with, I've, I've hired three FTEs and I have a summer intern.
We're, we're doing what we can. We're holding it all together. Like I said before, it's part of what the comptroller does. We have an IT group. So one of the things h HP five requires to do is a establish a statewide availability map throughout the state of Texas to be published by January one. so that's something we're actually doing. We have an IT group in in-house. We have a property tax group in, in-house. So we, we already have kind of already some of these things already in place. We kind of know where locations are and things like that. we have a local government assistance group, so as we're engaging with local governments, that's kind of already something that we're already doing as well too. So a lot of these things that BDO has been tasked with, you know, the co like I said, the comptroller doesn't, the Compt controls office wasn't doing broadband prior to September one of last year.
But we were doing a lot of the other things that this requires. We're taking federal funding, we're providing it to local governments through the Secco program, the state Energy Conservation office. So a lot of this stuff we're doing. but you know, you you, you kind of downplay it. You said, you know, the money might, might not be frightening enough. I think to me, the money is probably the most frightening thing. It's just we have a ton of cash coming to Texas to solve this problem. and we wanna make sure we get it right. And you know, it's gonna take every cent of what comes to us whether it's through our b whether it's through I I J A or whether it's even through our state legislature, through the ADA legislative session, next legislative session too. So we're still we're, we're kind of seeing kind of where all this money fits and we're developing our plans and everything we need to address that digital divide here in Texas.
Christopher Mitchell (06:03):
Well, you men, you mentioned mapping. I know DeAnne had a, had prepared a, a qu a question along those lines.
DeAnne Cuellar (06:09):
Yeah, I I was reading through some past current events where you were quoted, and the one quote that I pooled was the one where you said the Covid pandemic has highlighted the importance of reliable internet access and then lynchpin to this office's success will be building meaningful open relationships with state and local partners. And the other one that was connected to that was you were, you said soon after that that not having a mapping, like your own mapping at the state office was akin to doing this work without headlights in a car.
Greg Conte (06:41):
I think, I think one of the talking points is like 96% of Texans have access to reliable internet or something like that. And I think when you hear that number, you just know it's not true. And so if that's the best data that we're working off of that, the, that we only have like a 4% digital divide here in Texas, we all know that that's not true. We look at areas like Urban Dallas or even some of our larger urban areas, and they're, they're, if you look at the current FCC 4 77 maps, they say they're all covered. But then you go up to these communities, you talk to these communities, and you hear the horror stories of everything, how much they're paying, how much access is what they're actually getting, how unreliable it is. you know, it, it is not only the urban areas, it's also our, our rural areas as well.
Not having the actual data set, though, not actually having the hard data, kind of understanding where broadband is and where it isn't for me, as I was talking about before, when it comes to making sure every dollar and every cent is used correctly and efficiently the only way we can do that is, is if we know where to invest that money. If we rely on the current form 77 data, 4 77 data, and not use more granular data, the data that we're going to establish through the Texas broadband availability map it's gonna be quite hard to actually, you know, target this funding in a, in the most appropriate way. And so rather than just throwing money into our dark room, we just wanna make sure that we're addressing the need on a granular basis. And so that's why it's so important for us to have a better idea of, you know, where access is and where it isn't and what the truth is.
One, one of the, as I said before too, one of the groups I managed with the transparency group, transparency is so important to the comptroller and having an idea of kind of where everything is. And that's why as we build this map and we're engaging it right now with a third party entity to come in into Texas to help build this map, we should be making an announcement soon, possibly even today who that awardee will be. But we're still going through this negotiation phase. Once this entity is brought on, we're going to dive deep into this data and build out this map. we have a minimal viable product, essentially, we're going to create a map, divide the map into designated areas, make the areas eligible or ineligible for funding. That's kind of the minimal viable product. But we can go back in and we can do asset mapping. We can do you know, socioeconomic data overlays, things like that that'll help us go beyond what the minimal, what the minimal product needs to be and help us make better decisions, kind of where we can focus this funding. Now, I talked about de that one to 4 billion, but we're also scheduled to get somewhere between 70 and 100 million through the digital equity program as well too. We're just looking for the best data out there and that'll help us strategize on how to utilize that massive amount of funding that we're about to receive.
DeAnne Cuellar (09:34):
Yep. Yeah. You said two things that make me wanna ask one follow up question. The reason why I ask about mapping is because I heard a little bit about how communities have been turning up and turning out to give you that feedback that you mentioned about like what they experience their live reality with internet connectivity, you know, in their communities. El Paso had a big turnout, and we've talked about the importance of community feedback for designing these solutions after just explaining what you said about mapping and the importance of it and, and what information is used. What do you say to local communities in this in Texas right now that might not be using enough mapping to draft RFPs to use federal funding? What advice do you have for them?
Greg Conte (10:16):
What Dean was referring to there was, back in March and April, as we developed the state's first broadband plan the comptroller went out to 12 different locations throughout Texas, do essentially a listening tour, a public town hall, to kind of go into these com communities and learn more about their connectivity and re readiness on that ground level for broadband connectivity. And we heard a lot of stories. We were in Amarillo, we were in Fort Worth, just all over the state of Texas. Hearing all these different stories to help us better prepare as this funding comes online. what I would say to communities now who are using that mapping, not only for RFPs, but also just for as they, as they developed their local broadband plans, that's something that they need to be doing. We had a conversation with accounting in Texas just yesterday who hired a third party contractor to come in, and they essentially did that.
They built out a map to kind of know where broadband was and where it wasn't. Because we don't have that granular data yet on a state level, communities are now picking up that responsibility. They're either doing it on their own or they're contracting with a nonprofit or, or a for-profit entity to have a better idea to kind of you know, shine light on where that digital divide is within their community. one of the stories I like to tell is, when ARPA passed, that 500 million was allocated to bdo. we started getting a lot of phone calls from communities, particularly counties and municipalities saying, Hey, you've got 500 million, we have bad internet. Give us our bag of cash so we can solve this problem. And then saying, whoa, you know, before we start growing money at this problem, we're asking communities to begin doing that asset preparedness on the local level to kind of understand what the problem is and how it can be addressed and how much funding they need.
if you go on our website broadband for texas.com, we established a local community toolkit or communities who are kind of scratching the head on us and saying, where do I begin? What do I do? I know my my residents, my, you know, county buildings, whatever the schools, they have bad connectivity, and we need funding to address this issue. Where do we begin? And that's kind of the, the beginning steps to getting to that point of readiness for these communities. and as we build out our grant processes, now, one of the things, because we're a new office, we're building grant, the grant process from the ground up. and so we're establishing that we're establishing rules, we're establishing the application scoring criteria, scoring evaluation. And as we, you know, mature some of those products, we're gonna have more information for our local communities for what they need to do to start preparing for applications. When those come online, it's important for communities to find the right data to have a better understanding of where they are on that digital device spectrum. When the the Texas availability map comes online, they're going to have the availability to go and utilize this data to best understand what's going on in their community. We're mandated by January one. We expect to, we, we hope to have it up before at that point,
Christopher Mitchell (13:20):
You, you used the line that you're looking for the best data out there, and in our experience there's not a lot of best data out there. And I, I guess I, I'm curious, have you been able to have some successful negotiations and discussions with different large internet service providers where they're providing data to you under the condition that you won't share it? I think that's how Georgia did their maps, which were pretty pathbreaking at the time. and I feel like, I mean, there's, there's sort of two things I think, and I'm curious if you have found this. you know, one is can you get information at a very granular level, like at the address level from providers and whether you make it public or not, I mean, most, almost everyone's found that, that they're not able to make it public, which fair enough. Like I don't wanna litigate that with you right now. It's not your position <laugh>. but the other thing is, is that like, when you're dealing with fixed wireless and DSL particularly it's very difficult to know with any certainty where what house can get what service. And so I'm just curious how you're dealing with those two challenges
Greg Conte (14:18):
As we've been engaging with a mapping vendor to come in and help us with that. That's gonna be essentially our data strategy. When we bring this entity on, we'll, we'll leave it up to them to begin engaging with ISPs to collect the information that they need to provide us. And like I said, they need to provide us, because that's the carrot. If you're not, if an ISP isn't providing us information to go into our map, they can't participate in our program. ISPs will need to submit informa the same information that they're submitting to the FCC when it comes to this new granular data collection. Now we have the ability go out and request data from ISPs, but there is that component where it must remain confidential if that's submitted to us beyond what the expected publicly available information is being submitted to the, the FCC to build out their maps.
The mapping initiative is going to be a massive data strategy for us, and it's going to help us drive forward on the strategy for you know, utilizing a lot of this funding. So if there are opportunities for us to engage with our ISPs for them to provide us additional information, we identify that need, we will certainly be engaging with our ISPs. And we already have, we've been, we right now hold monthly is p round tables where we bring, where we invite all the ISPs of the state to come together and we talk to 'em about kind of what we're up to. We provide them information, but also it's an opportunity for us to kind of bounce questions off them and do some intel gathering on our end, kind of talking about low cost options, what does that look like, you know, through ARPA and even through I I J A, states are gonna have to come up with a low cost university available low-cost option.
And what does that look like from an ISP perspective? we kind of know what it is from a consumer perspective, right, as low as possible with that hundred 20, that would be great, but from an IP perspective, not, not, that might not be achievable, and that might just be a barrier for them to actually enter into the program. We're keeping our channels open with the ISPs. We wanna make sure that all stakeholders, including ISPs are, are being considered through this process. And if there's an opportunity for us to collect additional information from ISPs, we'll certainly make that request.
Christopher Mitchell (16:24):
Yeah. And I, I think one of the things that I often worry about is the other incentive, which is you know, some ISPs feel like they're may be gained by overstating data. And I feel like that's an issue where you're gonna be having to deal with that as well, where they, they may claim and I'm not talking about any particular ISPs. I've seen some small ISPs do it. I've seen some big ISPs do it, like, you know, a sense of saying, oh yeah, we already covered these areas. You can't, you can't fund there. and so I wish you luck in, in sorting all that out. <laugh>. I do wanna ask you something about, about Texas politics. I feel like being in the controller's office, sorry, comptroller for you, <laugh>, the you know, I feel like this is an office, which is like among other government offices, really wants to keep politics out of what they do. And I'm curious, like, you know, if you feel like it's gonna be challenging to keep politics away from broadband, or if you feel like you have a pretty good path to doing that.
Greg Conte (17:22):
You know, a lot of people ask like, why would the broadband office go to the Texas Conference Office? That seems like an odd place where, why don't I go to PC or or another location? And I think, you know, one of the reasons that it came to the comptroller's office because Comptroller Glenn Hager has such a great reputation across the state, the statewide elected official. He is, he's admired by a lot of folks within the state state legislature, but also, you know, Texans themselves really have a, a, a high, a high feeling for comptroller Hagar. That's why that's one of comptroller hagar's skills is he's not gonna politicize this process. The the goal is clear close the digital divide in Texas, let's do that, get out of our way, and let's do that in the best, most efficient way we can with the funding that we can.
There will certainly be, and we've already experienced the political pressures, whether it's not only, you know, throughout the cap, throughout the state, you know but also federally and even locally. there are certainly political pressures as far as how, how we're gonna use the funding. we have the N T I A NOFO for bead. there were some, you know, some pushback on that when it came to kind of how they're prioritizing projects through that process. so politics, the politics through this broadband funding is certainly unavoidable, but I don't see what, as the fund, as the funding goes through the controls over through bdo, I don't see it being a hindrance to us to executing the mission that we've been tasked with through state legislature.
Christopher Mitchell (18:48):
DeAnne Cuellar (18:48):
So this this question is about the, the, the Texas grid. Speaking of politics, right? you know, Texas is unique. We have ERCOT, you know, we're having a summer that is, you know, hot for us in Texas. Do you think that we'll call it like the community building and the feedback and the problem solving around the around the grid is gonna impact any of the conversations about closing the digital divide for your office or, you know, for the state?
Greg Conte (19:20):
I haven't put much thought into that, but I don't think so. I think, you know, the grid is something in Texas from a policy perspective that it's kind of outside the realm of our control right now. So that isn't something that I don't, I don't think will impact our ability to address in East Texas.
Christopher Mitchell (19:36):
Yeah, I was curious. I was really curious about that. It was a, a question we were batting around among our, our team in part because I, I do feel like, and I've written about how the, the, the problems that ERCOT has faced in the, in the cold weather and the hot weather have led me and then, and actually some of the really great reporting that we've seen out of some Texas reporters about how many people change electric providers in that market for electricity. And it's gotten me thinking a lot about markets for infrastructure and how they work and this and that. And so I feel like there's work for scholars to dig into their more and, and to, and to see what's going on. But the other piece of it is that I do feel like as we get higher speed services to people, and I would put it at around a hundred megabits a second, I feel like reliability becomes more important to people than than going to 200 megabits a second, right?
Like, at a certain threshold, people want more reliable connectivity rather than faster connectivity as a top metric. So anyway just I'm curious about something related to El Paso, and that's that I you know, I've, I've gone to local broadband meetings where three people show up, it's like super disheartening and you kinda wonder like, is this worth anyone's time? Like, is this really an issue here? And then you see like an El Paso turnout, which is so huge and, and for people who I think aren't as familiar with that, I'm curious, like, like I have to assume a lot of people take notice when, when you see that kind of turnout. And it does reinforce for whether it's a staff of the state elected officials, like it, it has to reinforce that this is really important to people.
Greg Conte (21:07):
Yeah, absolutely. We were not shocked, but we were surprised and happy to see the turnout of our El Paso listening tour. I'm an alumni of UTEP Go Miners. so it was great to be back on campus. but the whether it was UTEP or whether it was the city of city of El Paso, the border of Plex community, everybody just showed up. They showed up strong. Everybody knew exactly what, what made El Paso unique was they knew what they wanted. You know, when we went to other locations, it was like, okay, how do we start this conversation how, you know, and you would get, a few people would say, I have bad internet and this is why I have bad internet. Or, Hey, I'm a service provider and this is why it's difficult for me. When, when we were in El Paso, it was just, cause what we're doing essentially is a listening tour.
It wasn't comptroller Hager, it wasn't myself talking to him. We were sitting there just taking notes, letting folks talk to us, and El Paso, it was just boom, boom, boom, right down the line, just, this is what we need, this is what we want from you, this is our expectations from you. And right down the line, everybody was just very consistent. and so anybody from El Paso who was listening message received, thank you so much for showing up. it was, it was a really great showing, it really inspired us. It really put the emphasis on, we gotta get this right, because we have a lot of eyes on us, not just within the state capitol, not just like in the surrounding area here, but across the state, including El Paso. And that's why we wanted to do the listening tour. We didn't want this to be the comptroller's office here in Austin, putting together a plan without input from all perspectives, all four corners of the state. El Paso came out strong, so it was really great.
Christopher Mitchell (22:48):
The Texas legislature makes it harder for cities to build their own networks. And again, that's something that you don't have control over. And I'm not gonna, I don't wanna spend a lot of time on that. I just want to note that you know, a few cities have done stuff. a lot of cities don't want to do their own network anyway. but N T I A was put in a difficult position by Congress, which based simultaneously said, we're not giving you the express power to preempt state law, but we kind of want you to preempt state law and encouraging state offices to you know, make sure that cities are able to compete for funds on I would say relatively equal terms to as ISPs. and I don't even know if you have any cities that are planning on doing that, but I'm, I'm just curious, as someone who has to figure out how to make sense of being asked to do things that are somewhat in conflict with each other how do you plan on resolving that?
Greg Conte (23:40):
it's, it's interesting how the N nfo is written. You know, it, it asks, it encourages states to relax certain laws that, that prohibit those municipal networks. And what it does, it, it uses the word predate as well. So it addresses like, Hey, if you already have a, a, a law on the books that says that municipal networks are prohibited we encourage you either relax those, or what they're actually doing too is they're they're asking states that if you have that law to you know, identify through some of these deliverables, whether it's the final proposal or the five year action plan, kind of what that prohibition does how many, you know, entities or application does that knockout. So that's something that will be, that will certainly highlight, if that's the case where municipalities won't be able to apply for this program then we'll have to identify that through those through those channels.
But as you'll see through the state law that we, that was created through HB five, our program allows for profit and nonprofit entities to apply for funding. however, the way the, the law was written, if a nonprofit and a profit entity submit an application for the same location, the for-profit always comes out first. so we have to prioritize it based upon state law. That's how it is through the, through HB five. So we understand that there's some concern through the, the nofo went through NTIs guidelines. We're, we're here focused on closing digital divide in Texas. Whatever we can do to get that to address that need whether it's through NT i's rules or through state law, we'll make sure we're doing it in accordance with both. but we're really just focused on working, we're working through that kind of minutia on, on, on those guidelines to address the need here in Texas.
Christopher Mitchell (25:28):
The, the question that everyone wants to hear is one that you won't answer, and that's, which states are you laughing at? Cuz they're getting it so wrong. and <laugh>, no one from any state wants to make fun of their, their colleagues. but let me ask you, what states are you admiring? Are you, are you looking at some of the other states and say, yeah, like, I I think we should really learn from that. You know, is there, is there anything from another state?
Greg Conte (25:47):
When I first came into this role, when I say my greatest resources were other states who were kind of already doing this I got on a phone call with Russ from Washington, Peggy from Maine, any other states who would respond to my emails, just, what am I doing? What did I sign up for? Please, let's chat. and so those were a lot of the conversations that I had at the beginning, and those are some of the most rewarding conversations I had. understanding pitfalls, understanding kind of state laws understanding how some states have, are, are established and functioning. You know, a lot of states ha are, are under their governor's office. but some, some states are not. You know, Georgia is a good example for, for mapping. They have an awesome mapping program. And so we call them up, like, tell us what we need to do.
and so as far as you know, who I admire, I admire all the states to be honest. I admire all the states because they're, we're not all in the same boat. we're we all, we all have different constraints, all have different rules. We all have different leadership and executive teams that we kind of need to manage up to as states are, which is different. so for that, I admire all of our states. I, there's nothing more rewarding to me than going into a convention or a summit and other state offices. There's just so we can kind of talk shop and kind of talk about what they're up to. just because I'm doing something in Texas doesn't make that right for California. It doesn't make it right for Florida, it doesn't make it right for Connecticut. it's just the way it is here in Texas.
And so this program that we're doing is uniquely tech, and that's the way that we, that's the way that we're gonna move forward. We're going to address the issues here and the mo in the best way that will suit Texans. But there are certainly lessons to be learned by having conversations with other states to kind of like, what are you doing with this weird thing that NT is asking for? What are you doing about this odd thing that Treasury has asked us to do? and those lessons are super helpful for states like Texas. So I admire 'em all. I think they're doing all an awesome job. I, I, I'm in, no, I don't feel like I'm in any position to laugh at any state right now cause we're all kind of just, you know, shooting from the hips right now.
Christopher Mitchell (27:51):
Well, Rhode Island just picked Joshua Breitbart to work on their, a lot of their work and I long-term friends with him. So I'll laugh at Rhode Island,
Greg Conte (27:59):
<laugh>. Okay, cool.
Christopher Mitchell (28:01):
Not for any reason, just to pick one. Yeah. I really appreciate your time today and, and you know, I know that you were you know, you went to utep now you're in Austin, so I don't even know how you feel about Dallas, but in honor of this interview, I did wear my my Eagles shirt today growing up a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan. So I, I wish Dallas well and their digital equity battles, but I hope they lose every game this season. <laugh>.
Greg Conte (28:24):
Well, I appreciate it. I'm originally actually from Boston, Massachusetts, so I am a Patriots fan, you know I did go, I, I I, I came to Texas through the United States military, hence why I was in El Paso, hence why I went to utep. But then I came to Austin, did grad school at ut, hook them horns, and I'm a lifelong Austinite now, you know, so here I am.
Christopher Mitchell (28:45):
Nice. And I hope that you at least lived through some of the awful years of the Patriots to really enjoy the, the Good Years <laugh>.
Greg Conte (28:52):
Yeah. Way back in the day when they were bad. Yeah, exactly.
Christopher Mitchell (28:56):
Right, right. thank you so much Greg for, for taking the time, Dean, thanks for coming on and and sharing the load of hosting.
Greg Conte (29:03):
DeAnne Cuellar (29:03):
Thank you. Thank you, Chris.
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