More than 575,000 Texas households don’t have speeds necessary for modern technology, accessing critical internet resources
Austin, Texas (February 2, 2022) – Connected Nation Texas (CN Texas) has published the fifth — and final — scheduled update to its statewide broadband coverage maps. This release includes four maps detailing the various internet speeds available in each of the 254 counties across Texas.
“These maps, and the data behind them, are more important than ever — especially now as billions of dollars are being made available to expand and improve broadband availability across the country,” said Jennifer Harris, State Program Director, CN Texas. “Our maps yield valuable intelligence on which communities remain unserved or underserved so that state and local leaders can work with internet service providers to close remaining gaps. Broadband access is not a luxury — it’s essential infrastructure that Texas families now rely upon to work and learn remotely, access health care and government services, communicate with friends and family, and participate in the economy.”
Broadband coverage data was collected over the past two years. The data was improved by working in partnership with local stakeholders, more than 200 internet service providers (ISPs), and community and state leaders.
“We began building a foundation for broadband mapping in Texas in late 2019, but through a combination of public feedback, data collaboration and refinement with service providers, and continued on-the-ground field validation, we were able to greatly improve data granularity and accuracy,” said Ashley Hitt, Vice President, GeoAnalytics, Connected Nation (CN), the parent organization to CN Texas. “Our efforts mean that state and local leaders can have great confidence in the data to guide their decision-making on where and how to invest grant dollars to improve access and speeds.”
In addition, the CN Texas maps can help state broadband leaders analyze and, where necessary, challenge the new federal broadband map in development by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC has established a formal process to receive input from states and other stakeholders, and those states that have their own robust data collection and mapping programs will be best positioned to help the FCC refine its data.
This will ultimately influence how much federal funding Texas receives for expanding broadband, as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will be required to utilize the FCC’s map to allocate funding.
How CN Texas approached the need for better broadband
In late 2019, CN Texas launched a four-pronged approach to help expand broadband access to all Texans. That approach includes: 1. working directly with broadband providers to accurately map existing broadband service areas; 2. equipping decision-makers with quality data and insights; 3. educating the public on the critical benefits of high-quality broadband; and 4. promoting strategies and best practices that facilitate the expansion of broadband access to more rural Texans.
CN Texas’s work — including the updated broadband coverage maps — was made possible through the generous support of Texas Rural Funders (TRF).
“Three years ago, many organizations were struggling to help individuals and families simply because of the lack of access to reliable and affordable broadband,” said Kelty Garbee, Executive Director, TRF. “So, in 2019, we partnered with CN Texas to tackle this issue head on by identifying community needs and providing viable solutions. Our hope was that individuals and families across the Lone Star State would benefit from being in Connected communities. Now, we’re starting to see that hope become reality.”
CN Texas released its initial maps in January 2020, with updated versions following in July and December 2020, and July 2021. Each subsequent update has included additional input from residents and communities, as well as new, more granular data from internet service providers (ISPs).
“As much as we work hard to validate what we know about broadband coverage across the state, the data would not be as good as it is now without the involvement and support of the state’s internet service providers,” said Chip Spann, CN Vice President of Engineering and Technical Services. “All of us at CN Texas and Connected Nation want to take this opportunity to thank those broadband providers that have worked so closely with us over the past two years. Their cooperation has allowed us to greatly improve the accuracy and reliability of our maps, and that bodes well for the future of broadband across Texas.”
While the FCC currently defines “high-speed internet” as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, new federal funding programs such as those contained within the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are prioritizing a higher speed threshold of at least 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload. Higher speeds are increasingly becoming necessary to support the activities of multiple users at once. For example, a family of four might need a combination of teleworking, remote learning, telehealth, and video streaming capabilities on any given day. For more on broadband speed capabilities, see the FCC’s broadband speed guide.
The key findings from the latest data include:
- More than 165,300 households remain unserved at 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload speeds (25×3).
- Overall availability decreases from 98.15% at 25×3 speeds to 93.55% at 100×10 speeds, reflecting more than 575,000 households lacking service.
- Rural availability drops significantly as speeds increase, especially compared with overall Texas availability.
- For rural areas, availability decreases from 95.12% at 25×3 speeds
to 82.6% at 100×10 speeds.
- For rural areas, availability decreases from 95.12% at 25×3 speeds
- Speeds available from fixed wireless service continue to increase, with 51.12% of the state able to access fixed wireless at least 50×5 speeds, up from 41.06% in July 2021.
In addition to state-level maps, four county-level maps were produced for every Texas county, each displaying available coverage at one of four download and upload speed-tier classifications. Residents can find their county maps, review their updated information and provide feedback by heading to https://connectednation.org/texas/mapping-analysis/.
The interactive map is also available at https://connectednation.org/texas/interactivemap.
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About Connected Nation Texas: CN Texas is the state-based program of the national nonprofit Connected Nation. Its mission is to improve lives by providing innovative solutions that expand access to and increase the adoption and use of broadband (high-speed internet) and its related technologies for all people. Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation.
Connected Nation collaborates with consumers, local community leaders, states, technology providers, and foundations to develop and implement technology expansion programs with core competencies centered on a mission to improve digital inclusion for people and places previously underserved or overlooked. For more information, please visit: connectednation.org and follow Connected Nation on Facebook and Twitter.
About the Texas Rural Funders: The mission of the Texas Rural Funders (TRF) is to partner with rural Texans to achieve their vision of prosperity and wellbeing. The group’s strategies recognize and are informed by rural expertise and assets. TRF leverages local, philanthropic, state, and federal resources to collaborate on projects, support local capacity and leadership, share research, convene stakeholders, and engage in advocacy. More information can be found on the TRF webpage at https://texasruralfunders.org/.
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