Recovery Act Grant Will Extend Mapping Efforts and Fund the Creation of Regional Technology Planning Teams to Address Broadband Barriers
Austin, TX – Connected Texas, a nonprofit initiative, will receive $4.9 million in federal funding to support efforts to increase broadband across Texas. Among the objectives of the new project, Connected Texas, in coordination with the Texas Department of Agriculture and local leaders, will establish approximately 29 regional technology planning teams across the Lone Star State. Each team will establish benchmarks, goals, and a strategic plan that will dramatically improve services in unserved and underserved communities. The grant funds come to the Connected Texas initiative by way of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) State Broadband Data and Development (SBDD) grant program.
The newly awarded SBDD grant will support Connected Texas’ work in four vital areas including:
- Collection of crucial broadband market data at a local level
- Centralizing and streamlining efforts to build new broadband capacity across Texas
- Technical assistance to communities and providers working to expand broadband services
- Fostering awareness and development via regional technology planning teams and “Community Champions”
The impact of Connected Texas’ work is beginning to be felt in communities like Chireno, Texas. As a recent San Antonio Express-News article explains, the Connected Texas initiative is ready to help community leaders with custom problem-solving solutions for small towns like Chireno that need, but currently lack, broadband service. The grant funding will allow Connected Texas to help make quality broadband service a reality for all Texans by providing wireless assessments, cost feasibility help, and other technical and planning assistance to areas in dire need.
“This is great news for the push to expand broadband across rural Texas. With this funding we will be able to take efforts to the next level and form more than two dozen regional teams that will help pinpoint and address local broadband challenges all across the state,” explains Brian Mefford, CEO of Connected Texas’ parent organization, Connected Nation. “As more investments are made into Texas’ broadband capacity, rural Texans, in particular, will feel the impact with improved access to services like telemedicine, higher education opportunities, and easy access to government services that will greatly enrich their quality of life.”
In January 2010, Connected Texas was awarded $2.5 million to create the state’s first broadband availability map and update revisions with the help of public and broadband provider feedback validations. Connected Texas released the map’s first draft iteration in June 2010 at www.connectedtx.org. The additional SBDD funds will now enable Connected Texas to maintain broadband validation work and updates to the map for a total of five years. The map will enable state leaders, community decision makers, and the general public to better track the progress of broadband expansion over time while prioritizing future projects.
More importantly, the Connected Texas project will help provide data needed to strategically deploy broadband in a sustainable, market-based approach and in a manner that encourages private investment so that Texas can stay competitive in the digital economy. This project will leverage the work of the established Texas Broadband Task Force, seek input from experts from governmental agencies, nonprofits and trade associations, and assess current programs and laws/regulations that can be used to overcome impediments to broadband growth and adoption.
Connected Texas is an independent nonprofit organization that works in public and private partnerships to make technology expansion possible and increase economic growth across the state. Connected Texas works to make technology easily available in order to improve the state’s business environment, help community and economic development, improve healthcare, offer better education opportunities, and create more efficient and transparent government.
For more information about Connected Texas, please visit www.connectedtx.org.
To access a summary of the grant project, please visit http://www2.ntia.doc.gov/grantee/connected-nation-texas.
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