Content tagged with "texas"

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Colorado and Texas Municipal Broadband Networks Nab National Awards

From Colorado to Texas, municipal broadband providers continue to rack up industry accolades, not just for delivering fiber service–the gold standard of Internet connectivity–but for these networks’ ability to provide ubiquitous access across an entire community at affordable rates.

The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) recently announced that its Community Broadband Projects of the Year Awards for 2023 will go to the Connexion network in Fort Collins, Colorado and TeamPharr.net in Pharr, Texas.

Awarding Community-Wide Access and Affordability

The Fort Collins award is in recognition for the city having established “a municipal broadband utility created by and for the community to improve the life of all 80,000 residential and commercial properties of Fort Collins through better, more affordable Internet,” NATOA said in announcing the award.

Ft Collins NOC

But it wasn’t just because Fort Collins’ network provides city-wide access to fiber. The award also recognizes that “Connexion offers the fastest Internet speeds available at affordable prices (emphasis added) as well as competitive phone and TV services.”

CBN’s Signal to Noise Ratios Week of July 24

In this week’s round-up of broadband news, we culled three stories we think are worth reading.

How Much is Fast Enough?

The first is a story from Ars Technica – FCC chair: Speed standard of 25Mbps down, 3Mbps up isn’t good enough anymore – written by veteran IT reporter Jon Brodkin.

For years now, broadband-for-all advocates have lamented the FCC’s minimum broadband speed standard of 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload as being laughably antiquated. Indeed, it’s been almost three years since we made the case for Why 25/3 Broadband Is Not Sufficient, though it was outdated long before then.

Speed Test

But as Brodkin reported this week, the FCC’s minimum speed standard “could finally change under Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, who is proposing a fixed broadband standard of 100Mbps downloads and 20Mbps uploads along with a goal of bringing affordable service at those speeds to all Americans.”

Under Rosenworcel’s plan, the FCC would look at availability, speeds, and prices to determine whether the agency should take regulatory actions under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, which requires the FCC to determine if high-speed Internet access is being deployed "on a reasonable and timely basis" to all Americans.

Harlingen, Texas Pauses Municipal Broadband Plan Citing High Costs

Officials in the South Texas town of Harlingen say they’ve put their plan to deploy a municipal broadband network on hold after projected costs ballooned well beyond original estimates.

Originally, Harlingen officials had hoped to construct a $4 million fiber network to shore up broadband access to the city’s unserved and under-served populace, using a portion of the city’s $22 million share of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

But a $100,000 study conducted by Houston-based consultants Cobb Fendley and Associates suggested a more realistic price tag would be closer to $10 million, forcing city officials to reconsider their plan.

"We were hoping to get it rolling but we ran into a few hurdles along the way," City Commissioner Ford Kinsley recently told GovTech. "We're looking for some sources other than what we originally thought."

A 2019 census survey found that nearly 35 percent of Harlingen’s households (7,887 of 22,901) lacked any broadband access whatsoever, positioning the city as second worst in the state behind Pharr, Texas, which recently built a municipal fiber network to bring affordable connectivity to its city residents. Harlingen school district officials also say they found that 900 students' homes lacked Internet access as of 2020, hampering city education standards.

Harlingen students

The majority of the rest of the city’s residents are served by one or two providers, resulting in spotty access, high prices, and sluggish speeds. As with so many U.S. markets, the Covid home education and telecommuting boom drove home the need for the kind of affordable, uniform broadband access regional monopolies long failed to deliver.

Jessica Strom and Opportunity Home Help People Build Marketable Skills - Building for Digital Equity Podcast

Building for Digital Equity

Jessica Strom, Digital Inclusion Manager for Opportunity Home - the Public Housing Authority of San Antonio, shares the challenges of digital inclusion on their many properties as well as leaving us with exciting success stories of how people landed well-paying jobs after completing their courses. We also discuss the challenges for housing residents to avoid scams and the importance of free Wi-Fi to be ready if ACP runs out. 

This show is 18 minutes long and can be played on this page or using the podcast app of your choice with this feed.

Transcript below. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or see other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.

Thanks to Joseph McDade for the music. The song is On the Verge and is used per his Free-Use terms.

Changing the Legislative Landscape in Texas - Episode 550 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Outreach Team Lead DeAnne Cuellar and John Speirs, Harris County, Texas' (pop. 4.7 million) Broadband Manager. Its county seat, Houston, is home to one of the largest ports in the world, and citizens and elected officials are working on projects to boost the region's economic development, climate resiliency, and connectivity to set a solid foundation for the next generation of citizens. 

Christopher, DeAnne, and John talk about what's needed to close the connectivity gap for the 180k households that don't have access to basic broadband speeds, and what will happen if the state doesn't make its legislative landscape friendly enough to get the most bang for the BEAD dollars that will begin to arrive this summer.

This show is 30 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed

Transcript below. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Dwight Thomas on Building Community Networks - Episode 7 of the Building for Digital Equity Podcast

Building for Digital Equity

Sean Gonsalves speaks with Dwight Thomas, who build the first citywide municipal fiber network in Texas in Mont Belvieu. They talk about Mont Belvieu as well as the importance of engaging the community and how to make sure people can use the network once it is built. Dwight also discusses his passion for discipleship and sharing his knowledge. 

This show is 19 minutes long and can be played on this page or using the podcast app of your choice with this feed.

Transcript below. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or see other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.

Thanks to Joseph McDade for the music. The song is On the Verge and is used per his Free-Use terms.

NDIA Hosts Largest Ever Net Inclusion Gathering

Digital equity advocates rode into San Antonio, Texas for Net Inclusion 2023 to kick-off the largest gathering of the annual conference to date.

There were nearly 1,000 in attendance at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio for the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) marquee gathering. Those on the front lines of bridging the digital divide across the nation came to the three-day conference (Feb 28 to March 2) to network, share lessons, best-practices, and learn from experts as the largest ever federal investment in expanding broadband access is heading to state broadband offices this summer.

Mayor Addresses Attendees, Acknowledges Open Secret

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg welcomed attendees, noting how his city was a fitting venue for the event.

“It’s no secret San Antonio is one of the most socio-economically segregated cities in the United States,” he said. “And that’s why we have zeroed-in on equity – in our budget, in who gets invited to the table.”

Election Day 2022: Broadband on the Ballot

As voters went to the polls yesterday, broadband-focused initiatives and candidates could be found up and down the ballot all across the country.


Alabama voters cast their ballots to decide on a state Constitutional amendment known as the Broadband Internet Infrastructure Funding Amendment. The measure sought to amend the state's constitution "to allow local governments to use funding provided for broadband internet infrastructure under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and award such funds to public or private entities."

That measure passed, garnering a “Yes” vote from nearly 80 percent of Alabama voters. With 73 percent of the vote counted late last night, 922,145 “Yes” votes had been tallied with 251,441 “No” votes.

Also in Alabama, Democratic U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell won her re-election bid to represent Alabama’s 7th congressional district. Sewell, whose district covers a large swath of the Alabama Black Belt, “spent much of her past two years in office bringing American Rescue Plan Act funds to rural Alabama, dedicated to healthcare, broadband access and infrastructure building,” as noted by The Montgomery Advertiser.


The Centennial State is not listed as one of 17 states in the nation with preemption laws that erect barriers to municipal broadband because nearly every community that had a vote has passed it to nullify it. But more communities had to go through that unnecessary process yesterday due to the law known as SB-152 that bans local governments in the state from establishing municipal broadband service absent a referendum.

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. To that end, the city has created regional partnerships, completed a feasibility study, and launched a pilot project. Now, Pharr officials are moving ahead with the construction of a city-wide municipal network. 

Wake Up Call in Rio Grande Valley

Pharr has a population of almost 80,000 people of which 94 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino with over 30 percent of families living below the poverty line. Their public meetings are often bilingual. But, it was in 2015 that the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported that the Rio Grande Valley was on the wrong end of the digital divide. The report also highlighted the impact that had on the communities in the region:

The study involved focus groups with colonia residents. One theme that arose from the conversations with residents was the lack of access to the internet. The report found that the digital divide was a factor preventing residents from accessing regional labor market opportunities. Additionally, the report described the challenges colonia students face in school because of their inability to complete homework assignments due to lack of internet service and computers at home.

When earlier this week ILSR caught up with Jordana Barton Garcia, author of the report, she explained that “colonias” are informal neighborhoods where people live with no (or limited) infrastructure. Residents are sold lots without existing infrastructure, from water to broadband.