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Texas County Communities Hero Newv2

Newton County Texas


The Broadband Team in Newton County, Texas 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 during the global COVID-19 pandemic. This worldwide event likely impacted many of the metrics included in this assessment.

Connected Infrastructure in Newton County, Texas

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 one of several technology platforms such as 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 one location, however, fixed broadband service is often broadcast as a Wi-Fi network to connect nearby devices.

The following map shows where residential broadband is available in Newton County.

Recommended Actions

Broadband data collected in July 2021 show that only 37.5% of households in Newton County have access to broadband. The data collected by Connected Nation Texas show that almost two-thirds of the residents either use non-fixed internet connections such as dial-up, satellite, and mobile-only services, or are not adopting broadband at all. These non-fixed types of internet services, while providing basic access, can often be plagued by connection latency, have costly monthly data plans, or can be impacted by weather, terrain, large expanses of open water, and other environmental factors.


Newton County should promote fixed broadband deployment strategies for more reliable and accessible services to residents. Access and adoption of the Internet need to be addressed. Survey results suggest unreliability and cost are critical issues within all community sectors – residents, agriculture, healthcare, and businesses specifically. The Rural Development Opportunity Fund money will be helpful to many in Newton County, but residents and businesses still could be without service for 6-8 years given the time providers have to fulfill their contracts. Interim and permanent solutions need to be discussed.


Action 1 - Appoint a point of contact to handle broadband issues and needs in Newton County. Judge Weeks should appoint the point of contact with input from the Commissioners Court. This point of contact should establish relationships with all broadband stakeholders to help bring broadband into the county and ensure duplication of work and effort does not occur.  RDOF money will potentially be awarded to Charter Communications, LLC and LTD Broadband, LLC totaling up to $8,944,893.  DETCOG potentially has been awarded $9,000,000 to construct a rural broadband network in northern Newton County. This relationship between Newton County and providers allows Newton County leadership a more active voice in how money is invested for the betterment of their residents. The point of contact should focus attention on making sure funds are spent efficiently. They will develop a document of specific needs and issues surrounding broadband.  The point of contact will understand the scope of work providers are planning in Newton County. The point of contact will update the court on funding opportunities by the federal government and potentially the State government.

Action 2 - Updating Newton County’s website to instruct internet service providers how to do business in the county can delete barriers and streamline the process.  This minimizes barriers to providers bringing fixed broadband into the county by making critical county information easily accessible.  Newton County already has a procurement bid notice page at, and this would be a good place to include all vendor information and any electronic forms vendors need. Other websites and social media sites can share the link such as:

Newton Chamber of Commerce,

The City of Newton,

Action 3 - Develop and release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an asset inventory. The point of contact should guide the development of the RFP. This audit will help identify Newton County assets that can be shared and leveraged in partnership with providers. Examples of assets that can be shared include:

  • Anchor tenants
  • Building rooftops
  • Light poles,
  • Towers and other vertical assets for mounting infrastructure

Developing public-private partnerships benefits both parties.  The community can offer infrastructure and the providers bring network-building and operations experience.  For example, offering assets to house Wi-Fi equipment promotes fixed broadband in the county.

Action 4 – Facilitate provider meetings. Local internet service providers should be given an opportunity to discuss why services are deemed expensive and unreliable and offer suggestions on improvements for their customers. A market analysis can be performed to identify potential broadband providers and understand potential service offerings, and respective rates. Information learned may be educational for county staff to understand barriers that providers’ experience.  If providers are not willing to work with the County, new providers should be given opportunities to work in Newton County.  Providers can share their biggest barriers such as:

  • Rights-of-Way
  • Leasing Pole Attachments
  • Permits

Responsible Parties

  • Judge Weeks should appoint the point of contact with input from the Commissioners Court.
  • The point of contact will be responsible for updating the website with needed content. Oversight will be by Judge Weeks.
  • The point of contact should be responsible for deploying an RFP with guidance from the Commissioners Court and Judge Weeks.
  • Judge Weeks, county commissioners, and local internet service providers scheduled to do work in the County or wanting to do work in the County can be included in the discussion. Also, RDOF providers, Charter Communications and LTD Broadband, should be included.


Removing barriers to broadband expansion:

Example of a county with online resources:

Becoming Broadband Ready: -

Examining state broadband programs:

List of available federal funds:

List of available funds as collected by Connected Nation:

Removing barriers to broadband expansion:

Example of a county with online resources:

How to write federal grants and a list of available grants:


While the County works on long-term solutions, entities such as local businesses, government facilities, and anchor institutions should allow public access to Wi-Fi which will advance broadband adoption and use in Newton County.


Action 1 – The County should promote currently-available free internet services in public places that are easily accessible for use by the community.  Leadership should collaborate to promote local businesses and organizations that offer free Wi-Fi to the public. This includes Newton County Public Library and the Newton County Courthouse.  There are sectors of the population that are priced out of Wi-Fi services; therefore, the County should have adequate places residents can have access to the internet.

Public schools are providing free public Wi-Fi, but this can be extended past school hours when more convenient for parents and the community. Public schools are currently closed through the summer for maintenance, but schools should try to stay open to the public when they can.  This also allows staff who may not have internet connections at home access to the internet.

Action 2 –Expand access to broadband by increasing the number of publicly-available free Wi-Fi hotspots in Newton County. Offer hotspots or access points around town.  This includes:

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Book stores
  • Libraries
  • Hotels
  • Hospitals
  • Other community centers

Action 3 – Offer digital learning skill training opportunities at libraries with public computers and Wi-Fi. Offering these training opportunities, both in English and Spanish, can attract more patrons to the libraries.  This activity also promotes broadband adoption in the community, allowing for further inclusion in the digital economy, especially under-resourced populations and seniors. Some available training options include: - offered by Connected Nation - digital curriculum offered by the Public Library Association,to%20anyone%20of%20any%20age. - AARP joins with Nonprofit to teach tech to older adults.

Responsible Parties

County Judge Weeks, Superintendent Michelle Barrows, Superintendent Dr. Keith Jones, Newton County Public Library librarian Stephanie Ducote, and the Newton Chamber of Commerce should partner to address the various Wi-Fi projects.


5 Reasons Why You Should Offer Free Wi-Fi to Your Customers: Spectrio

Examples of one Texas town meeting residents’ broadband needs:


Provide a level of confidence for government and safety personnel to engage with the internet. The Connected Nation Texas study showed that local government entities did not have confidence in internet use.


Action 1 - Perform assessments of the county’s hardware and software, as well as county readiness to address cybersecurity issues. The point of contact should work with local IT experts to perform a cybersecurity self-assessment in the county. The Department of Homeland Security offers free downloadable self-assessments to local governments called Cyber Resilience Reviews (CRR). They also provide an onsite 6-hour session with trained DHS representatives. The CRR is a no-cost, voluntary, non-technical assessment to evaluate an organization’s operational resilience and cybersecurity practices. The benefit of performing these assessments is to bring awareness and confidence to the state of local cyber security. CRR resources are available via

Action 2 – Participate in the annual cybersecurity compliance training. All local government officials, staff, and contractors who have access to government computers or databases must participate in annual cybersecurity courses. Texas House Bill 3834, effective June 14, 2019, requires all elected officials and most local government employees to complete an annual cybersecurity training program that has been certified by the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR). House Bill 1118, which became effective on May 18, 2021, added a penalty for non-compliance with the training. The Texas Association of Counties (TAC) offers free cybersecurity courses each year. Below are the steps to enrolling counties for training when the training window opens:

  1. The Commissioners Court should approve enrolling county employees.
  2. Complete the enrollment form and submit it to or fax at (512) 477-1324.
  3. Fill in the user import template with employees’ information and submit it by email so that all required employees can be enrolled in the training course.

Information is available at

Action 3 - Hire a security expert to assess vulnerabilities if any issues a detected as a result of Action 1 (self-assessment). The county should hire a security expert to help address any vulnerabilities detected during the self-assessment. This recruitment process may need to grow through the RFP process.

Action 4- Encourage residents to participate in internet safety training. The point of contact should provide information on internet safety via the County’s website to encourage responsible internet use in the community. Examples of freely-available resources include:

Action 5 – Assess Local Government Cybersecurity Insurance Needs

Discuss with all local government entities the provisions that current insurance policies may have in case of a cyber-related incident. These conversations can help identify risks to the community and may warrant further discussion with insurance providers about coverage options that could help pay for damages and recovery from a cyberattack.


Downloadable self-assessment tools provided by DHS:

Texas Association of Counties Annual Cybersecurity Compliance Training:

GCFLearnFree Internet Safety:

Cybersecurity for Remote Workers Staff Awareness E-learning Course- This low-cost non-technical course helps employees remain safe, and understand what to do if and when they experience a cyber-attack or phishing scam:

Email Security and Privacy Awareness Course – This free one-hour course helps raise awareness of email data security and privacy:

Information Security and Cyber Security Staff Awareness E-Learning Course – This low-cost course is aimed at employees who process information, use information technology in their daily job, or use the Internet to conduct business:

Wizer Security Awareness Training: This free security awareness training includes everything you need to train your employees how to protect themselves against cybersecurity attacks, it is 100% free with over 20 free videos, quizzes, employee progress reports, and certificates:

Phishing Staff Awareness E-Learning Course – This is low-cost phishing awareness training: