The Liberty County, TX Broadband Team has completed its community technology assessment. The results of the assessment can be found by clicking the symbol for each of the sections below. The Solutions sector includes recommended actions the community can implement to improve the broadband and technology ecosystem at a local level. It should be noted that much of the assessment was conducted before or at the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This worldwide event likely impacted many of the metrics included in this assessment.
Broadband access refers to the infrastructure that enables a high-speed internet connection. There are two primary types of broadband connections: fixed and mobile.
Fixed broadband is delivered to a user via several technology platforms including cable, digital subscriber line (DSL) over phone line, fiber optics, and fixed wireless. Fixed broadband is designed for stationary use at a fixed location such as a home, business, or institution. From a single location, however, fixed broadband service is often broadcast as a Wi-Fi network to connect nearby devices.
The map below shows the areas where broadband is available in the community.
Public-private partnerships take many forms, limited only by the imagination and legal framework in which the municipality operates. Some communities issue municipal bonds to fund construction of a network, which they lease to private carriers, with the lease payments covering the debt service. Others create non-profit organizations to develop networks in collaboration with private carriers or provide seed investment to jump start construction of networks that the private sector is unable to cost-justify on its own., A public-private partnership should not be simply seen as a method of financing. The strength of these partnerships is that each party brings something important to the table that the other doesn’t have or can’t easily acquire. The community can offer infrastructure (publicly owned building rooftops, light poles, towers, and other vertical assets for mounting infrastructure) for the deployment of a network, as well as committed anchor tenants. Private-sector partners bring network-building and operations experience.
Leverage existing community assets in partnership with private sector carriers to expand broadband network deployment.
Action 1 – Determine Priorities: Competition, enhanced service, equity and service to all, public control over infrastructure, risk avoidance, redundancy, etc.
Action 2 – Examine models of partnership:
- Model 1: Private Investment, Public Facilitation: Make available public assets like fiber and conduit, share geographic information systems data, streamline permitting and inspection processes, offer economic development incentives to attract private broadband investment
- Model 2: Private Execution, Public Funding: Identify revenue streams that can be directed to a private partner, issue RFP for private turnkey execution.
- Model 3: Shared Investment and Risk: Evaluate using assets to attract private investment, evaluate funding new assets to attract private investment, evaluate building new fiber assets to businesses and/or homes for leasing to private ISPs.
Action 3 – Understand key legal considerations for localities looking to build a broadband partnership: Review authority issues, understand the legal tools and instruments that could shape the partnership, negotiate the agreement.
Local units of government; Broadband providers; Community anchor institutions; Residents and businesses
Building rural broadband from the ground up: http://bit.ly/2dx4MBw
United States Department of Agriculture: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahom
BroadbandUSA’s Introduction to Effective Public-Private Partnerships: https://broadbandusa.ntia.doc.gov/sites/default/files/publication-pdfs/bbusa_effective_public_private_partnerships.pdf
The Federal Highway Administration has indicated that “ninety percent of the cost of deploying broadband is when the work requires significant excavation of the roadway.” A “dig once” policy increases coordination between government agencies and utility companies to minimize the frequency of roadway excavation and disturbance. These policies aim to facilitate joint trenching cost savings and ensure that broadband infrastructure improvements are considered alongside other infrastructure and public works projects. To this end, these policies encourage or require that every infrastructure project include notification and facilitation of opportunities to lower the costs of broadband infrastructure investment by coordinating project planning when a right-of-way (ROW) disturbance occurs. Considering the rocky terrain in the area, such policies could make it significantly easier for internet service providers to expand broadband infrastructure in the community at a lower cost, making it accessible to more households in the area that currently rely on wireless or satellite connections.
Explore policy options that will make it easier for broadband providers to improve broadband infrastructure in the area. Where feasible and cost-effective, enact such policies. One prime example is a “Dig Once” policy whereby public or private excavators are required to coordinate with local authorities to install fiber or conduit whenever ground is broken on a public right-of-way.
Action 1 – Explore legislative strategies enacted by states and municipalities and determine if such actions would be legal and cost-effective.
Action 2 – Determine what steps would be necessary to enact a Dig Once provision that will be flexible and create as little disruption as possible, while still resulting in the desired goal of incentivizing the expansion of local broadband infrastructure.
Action 3 – Continue to monitor the impact of such policies and revise as necessary.
Economic development organizations
Fixed broadband providers
Local and county government
Road and highway departments
Utilities and other entities likely to dig frequently on public rights-of-way
Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure Deployment from the United States Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and The Office of Policy and Governmental Affairs: https://bit.ly/35jMBtN
Model Codes for Municipalities from the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee: https://bit.ly/3bSv92c
Texas Department of Transportation’s Right of Way Utilities Manual: https://bit.ly/2WctAWj
Online content and web-enabled course delivery can provide opportunities for learning beyond the traditional face-to-face course format found in many K-12 institutions. These applications can be further bolstered by providing students with their own internet-enabled devices. Advancements in technology and personal computing provide new opportunities for student engagement and learning. Implementing a 1:1 device program is not a light undertaking, and it requires the input and dedication of administrators, teachers, and students.
The goal of this initiative is to improve student learning through individualized devices with access to the internet.
Action 1 - Create your 1:1 vision and leadership team: A 1:1 program is not about the devices; rather, it’s about creating an environment where all students have greater access to learning resources. Planning teams should include a diverse array of stakeholders from the school including administrators, teachers, students, and others.
Action 2 - Research other implementations: Many schools have implemented 1:1 device programs across the country, some more successfully than others. Seek out examples from similar districts, including those in the same community.
Action 3 - Assess district readiness: There are a number of factors to consider including leadership, long-term funding, staff skillsets, training/professional development, enabling or hindering policies, device purchase vs. bring-your-own-device model, Internet connection and wireless capabilities, etc.
Action 4 - Hire a project manager and consult with experts: Topical and technical expertise could be beneficial to the project to bring outside perspective, experience, and knowledge of how to successfully implement the program.
Action 5 - Create a strategic plan: The strategic plan should outline the vision, research, and readiness work completed to date, and should also include goals and objectives, communications plans, finances, hardware and infrastructure, capacity building, benchmarking, and project timelines.
Action 6 - Develop a financial plan: A minimum five-year financial plan should be in place when implementation begins. Short and long-term funding should be considered as devices age, need maintenance and need replacing, and bandwidth increased.
Action 7 - Assess infrastructure needs: 1:1 device programs require robust infrastructure to support the connectivity of hundreds or thousands of new devices. Infrastructure issues include bandwidth, connectivity and access points, data systems, data management and storage, mobile device management, security and content filtering (if applicable), tech support and maintenance, etc.
Consider a pilot: Pilot programs help to demonstrate capabilities and help to work out bugs and test various solutions.
Action 8 - Ensure curriculum and pedagogy embrace technology: New technology brings new ways to deliver knowledge. Curriculum directors, teachers, and students should examine and research new ways to leverage student devices in and out of the classroom.
Action 9 - Develop/participate in collaborative and ongoing professional development: New technology and curriculum requires new and ongoing professional development for instructors. Professional development should follow a cycle of learning, discussing, testing, and adjusting until new curriculum and methods work for students.
K-12 Schools, Parents and Students, Internet Service Providers, Community Service Organizations, Libraries
One-to-One Institute’s Project RED: https://www.k12blueprint.com/content/one-one-institute-0
Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Your One-to-One Classroom: https://www.weareteachers.com/41-tips-tricks-techniques-11-classroom/
Five Steps for Implementing a Successful 1:1 Environment: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/one-to-one-environment-andrew-marcinek