Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
In Our View: Don't Leave Out The Cities
The State of Texas is notorious for pitting communities against one another. This time around, it's the little town versus the big city in the funding arena to improve Internet access.
Last week, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar kicked off his Texas Broadband Listening Tour 2022, scheduled to take place at 12 different locations statewide. The goal of his stakeholder listening tour is to collect feedback for Texas' newly created broadband development office and how the state should spend a once-in-a-generation windfall of federal resources to close the digital divide. Great news for a state the size of Texas with 29 million residents, right? It depends on where you live. The majority of the communities hosting a public forum are smaller communities. Remember the Alamo? Not Heger's office. Dallas and Austin made the list of stops, but San Antonio and Houston, with some of the state's highest populations, didn't make the cut for the tour.
Texas has both unserved and underserved communities living on the wrong side of the digital divide. From 8-80 years old, residents and businesses throughout rural, suburban, and urban communities are all harmed by the lack of community broadband infrastructure, unaffordable connectivity services, and digital discrimination.
We applaud the approach of public officials doing listening tours. However, we are deeply concerned that many states - red and blue - will ignore the needs of urban residents while focusing solely on solutions for rural areas. We laid this out more broadly in a policy brief we published last year. We can ensure everyone has high-quality Internet access, but we need to make sure that is the explicit goal.
If you'd like to participate in Texas' broadband listening tour, but you live too far to attend in person, a handy online survey is available until May 5, 2022, here. Virtual event information is currently unavailable.
What else can your community do to close the digital divide?
Attend: Building for Digital Equity - Demystifying Broadband Policy and Funding
Read: NDIA Digital Inclusion Coalition Guidebook
Research: Current projects being planned or considered in Texas
Subscribe: Community Broadband Bits Podcast
Watch: What’s it take to run fiber to the home?
NDIA Hosts Largest Ever Net Inclusion Gathering
Digital Inclusion Practitioners Head to San Antonio for Net Inclusion 2023
Election Day 2022: Broadband on the Ballot
Not All Affordable Connectivity Program Enrollees Are Using the Benefit: A Look into 30 Major Metro Areas
Holland, Michigan Votes to Build Citywide Open Access Fiber Network
In early August, the city of Holland, Michigan (pop. 33,000) voted to fund the construction of a citywide, open access fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network. It’s the culmination of almost a decade of consideration, education, planning, and success, and builds on decades of work by the Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW) and city officials to build and maintain resilient essential infrastructure for its citizens. It also signals the work the community has done to listen to local residents, community anchor institutions, and the business owners in pushing for an investment that will benefit every premises equally and ensure fast, affordable Internet access is universally available for decades down the road.
Pharr, Texas Leads Regional Effort to Build Municipal Fiber Network
On the southern border of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, Pharr, Texas is the home of the largest commercial bridge from Mexico into the U.S. Now the city is working on building an equally impressive virtual bridge to every home in Pharr with the construction of a municipal fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network. The progression has been steady despite pandemic induced setbacks, as city leaders are determined to solve the connectivity challenges in Pharr by leveraging the assets the city already owns while taking advantage of the unprecedented amount of federal funds now available to help communities expand access to broadband.