The Broadband Team in San Augustine County 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 lines, 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 map below shows where fixed broadband is offered in San Augustine County.
San Augustine County resolved to become a Broadband City. The text below is from that resolution.
Broadband, or high-speed internet, is essential in today’s world and will allow San Augustine County to be competitive in current, as well as future, global markets in economic development, closing the gap of learning between school children, providing a higher quality of life, ushering in telemedicine for residents, and allowing better communication between public safety entities.
San Augustine County engaged with Connected Nation Texas to understand the current broadband availability, adoption, and use in San Augustine County. The County surveyed its residents, businesses, agriculture community, library/social organizations, healthcare entities, political subdivisions, and government offices to discover the truth around providing adequate broadband, and how the City and County can serve their citizens better. This survey took place between July 2020 and ended in February 2021.
Whereas San Augustine City and County needs accurate broadband maps providing information of overstated and understand areas of provider services.
Whereas San Augustine City and County needs local planning to stimulate broadband infrastructure investment, including searching out for public and private partnerships and becoming a digital ready community.
Whereas San Augustine City and County needs a dedicated person to identify and pursue federal and state funding and oversee broadband needs, expansion, and projects.
Whereas San Augustine City and County needs all students to have broadband resources.
Whereas San Augustine City and County needs connectivity for businesses to succeed, as well as improved healthcare with telehealth capabilities.
Whereas San Augustine City and County needs focused attention to achieve broadband goals for the citizens.
Whereas San Augustine City and County needs to streamline policies, clear barriers, and be committed to making broadband infrastructure deployment in the community a priority. The community can more easily work with one another and cuts down on the opportunity for poor communication.
Whereas San Augustine City and County recognizes broadband access is no longer a luxury for the community to thrive, but a necessity and proper plans, a vision, and goals, must be addressed.
Resolved, that our immediate action must be to become a digital ready community. This means appointing one person (Point of Contact - POC) to the task of broadband management. This can be accomplished through a full-time or part-time position, or possibly a stipend arrangement. Their duties would include grant writing, working with providers making San Augustine a desirable government entity to partner, and create a public website which would provide forms, documents, and information for vendors, visitors, residents, and businesses. Other assignments would include budgeting for broadband needs, accounting for any federal or State money coming into San Augustine County and the City for broadband improvement and reporting back to the City and County elected councils.
The benefits include:
- Provides the community with the opportunity to identify their requirements and make it easier for the community to assist and work with a provider who seeks to expand services.
- Gives providers a centralized location to identify necessary regulations, and the opportunity to work with a local jurisdiction to address those regulations in an effective manner.
- Through the Community Broadband POC, a liaison is established through whom providers and the community can more easily work with one another and cuts down on the opportunity for poor communication.
The Governor of Texas made broadband an emergency item in the 87th legislative session and San Augustine County should be ready when new laws become effective.
Without council support and a dedicated broadband position, the work done to date will be lost.
Unfortunately, local community policies and a lack of local coordination are often major hurdles to broadband providers, as they work to expand their networks and advance access to broadband services. This solution seeks to streamline this process, by eliminating unnecessary policies, consolidating information, and appointing a single point of contact that can ensure that the community is working as efficiently as possible with providers and gaining access to the networks and services that are needed. All community stakeholders, local governing bodies, agencies, utilities, etc. should meet and identify all of the local policies, regulations, and permits required of a telecommunications provider. These disparate elements should be organized into a set of requirements, and a website established with all necessary forms available electronically and capable to be electronically signed. This group will also appoint a single point of contact (SPOC) for all telecommunications infrastructure development projects. This individual be the community liaison with providers and assist both the community and the provider through any necessary communications and working through any necessary issues As a commitment to this process, the local governing body/s should pass language that requires the agreed-upon times for responses to provider outreach, permit approval times, and authorizes the SPOC.
Provide a framework through which a community can demonstrate that they are a “Digital Ready Community” that has streamlined policies, cleared barriers, and is committed to making broadband infrastructure deployment in the community a priority. Benefits: 1. Provides the community with the opportunity to identify their requirements and make it easier for the community to assist and work with a provider who seeks to expand services. 2. Gives providers a centralized location to identify necessary regulations, and the opportunity to work with a local jurisdiction to address those regulations in an effective manner. 3. Through the Community Broadband POC, a liaison is established through whom providers and the community can more easily work with one another and cuts down on the opportunity for poor communication.
Action 1 - Conduct an initial meeting of involved parties, with a request that any needs/concerns they have related to broadband be brought to this formative meeting.
Action 2 - Hold a second meeting of this group and others who were identified during the first meeting to review the local regulations and requirements and to discuss any new requirements that may have been thought of.
Action 3 - Hold a 3rd meeting to review the final list of local regulations and ensure that the responsible bodies have the necessary action items to amend those requirements/policies and to identify the Community Broadband POC candidates.
Action 4 - Pass the necessary language in the governing bodies to amend any necessary regulations or policies, as well as authorizing the SPOC according to local law.
Action 5 - Publish the list of requirements along with the necessary electronic documentation as well as the contact information for the SPOC.
Action 6 - Promote the Digital Ready Community site and SPOC, and apply for Certification by completing the application and submitting all necessary documentation
Local government, utilities, planning commissions, zoning boards, other right-of-way managers, etc
Model Ordinances/Resolutions from various states:
Indiana Broadband Ready: https://www.in.gov/indianabroadband/2632.htm
Tennessee Broadband Ready: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/ecd/documents/broadband/Broadband_Ordinance_SAMPLE.PDF
Georgia Broadband Ready: https://broadband.georgia.gov/media/4/download
Stark County, Indiana Ordinance for a Broadband Ready Community: http://co.starke.in.us/ordinances/2020/Ordinance%20for%20a%20Broadband%20Ready%20Community.pdf
Your community can initiate a computer refurbishment program designed to help recycle computers donated by local businesses, government, schools, and other organizations, and then distribute them to low-income households and other households who face affordability barriers to computer ownership. Community computer refurbishing provides an opportunity for local volunteers and students to gain valuable new skills and training that can be used for career enhancement, and in some cases earn credits for high school or college, while reinvesting in their communities. Communities also have the option of using prison inmates to refurbish computers so that they leave prison with valuable job skills. Alternatively, if the computers are beyond refurbishment, the community can develop a computer recycling program. Recycling and reusing electronic equipment reduces the amount of hazardous materials that may enter the environment. Recycling and reuse programs also reduce the quantities of electronic scrap being landfilled in the state.
Overcome the cost barrier of using computers to access internet applications and other resources by initiating a program where residents can purchase low-cost devices. These devices may be refurbished or donated at a discounted cost to the program.
Action 1 - Develop a model for computer refurbishing or recycling. A basic framework might include project planning, determination of minimum computer specifications, acquisition and storage of donated computers, determination and installation of appropriate computer operating system.
Action 2 - Calculate the costs needed to carry out such a program.
Action 3 - Manage inventory. Examine how equipment and software will be sorted and managed: manage inventory by identifying computers that are ready to be refurbished from those that are non-functioning.
Action 4 - Train volunteers. Review established residential refurbishment and recycling programs that the community can take advantage of to build on those successes.
Action 5 - Continue to develop local partnerships with businesses or organizations that can help reduce costs, provide volunteer assistance, or advertise the project.
Nonprofit organizations, Libraries and schools, Senior centers, Private-sector technology companies (e.g., web developers, device repair, etc.)
InterConnection helps communities establish device refurbishment programs and provide devices to those in need: http://www.interconnection.org/
Dell Reconnect: http://dellreconnect.com/
Internet Essentials: https://www.xfinity.com/learn/internet-service/internet-essentials/low-cost-computer
For small businesses, an online presence and the use of social media are vital to stay competitive in the twenty-first century. A website and social media are not just for companies that have the experience, staff, or budget - any small business can tap into these resources. Training should be provided to small businesses regarding the use of websites and social media. Topics should range from starting a basic website to more advanced topics such as e-commerce. Social media topics should include a variety of social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Broadband empowers small businesses to achieve operational scale more quickly by lowering start-up costs through faster business registration and improved access to customers, suppliers, and new markets. According to Connected Nation’s 2012 Jobs and Broadband Report, businesses that are using the Internet bring in approximately $300,000 more in median annual revenues than their unconnected.
Encourage small local businesses to develop websites and to use social media, e-commerce, and other advanced uses of broadband and technology.
Action 1 - Work with the local chamber of commerce and/or libraries to expand existing programs that promote e-commerce, such as free websites and social media development, within the small businesses of the community.
Action 2 - Partner with providers to sponsor workshops. (ISPs may be willing to sponsor events since small-business workshops will likely lead to increases broadband adoption and use).
Action 3 - Identify regional and community partners with resources and expertise to assist the community in providing “free” website and social media workshops.
Action 4 - Schedule workshops and advertise classes via local media.
Chamber of commerce/economic development organization; Libraries; Community College; Broadband providers; IT/Technology organizations; Local SCORE representatives
On-Site Technology Training for Small, Rural Michigan Businesses: https://bit.ly/2Yh4zvL
The Importance of Tech for Small Businesses: https://bit.ly/2zL9Lha
Revenue Trends for Small Businesses: https://bit.ly/35jYBLQ
Google Helps Businesses Get Online with Free Resources: https://bit.ly/2VPbpa0
Boosting Business with an Online Presence: https://bit.ly/3aVxLuF
Building E-Commerce in Wright County, IA: https://bit.ly/2z2jPll