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Texas County Communities Hero Newv2

Shelby County Texas


The Broadband Team in Shelby County, Texas has completed the community technology assessment. The results of the assessment can be found by clicking the button for each of the sections below. The Recommended Actions section includes a list of 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.

Connected Infrastructure in Shelby 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 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 intuition. With a location, however, fixed broadband service is often broadcast as a Wi-Fi network to connect nearby devices.

The following is an interactive map where you can see where broadband is offered in your community.

Recommended Actions


Shelby County is set to receive $4,909,178 in Fiscal Recovery Funds, and Charter Communication is receiving up to $11,586,752 in Rural Development Opportunity Funds, pending approval from the FCC. Making this a seamless process to do business in Shelby County will allow for quicker deployment of broadband throughout the county. Particularly given the low broadband availability level (17.9%) in Shelby County, this warrants urgent attention.


Shelby County should review and update ordinances and policies to minimize any barriers to broadband deployment to bring faster broadband buildout to the county.


Action 1 – Assign a person dedicated to leading provider engagements and broadband project review.

Judge Harbison and the Commissioners Court should appoint this person with input from the soon-to-be-named Center Economic Development Director and the County Treasurer, Anne Blackwell. The city of Center is the county seat for Shelby County and houses the Center Economic Development Team, which also launched a separate broadband survey for the city. Housing a dedicated person to be the point of contact is helpful for incoming vendors. The person should be knowledgeable about broadband and remove barriers as appropriate. This appointee’s job description can be expanded, but to start, they should concentrate on bringing faster fixed broadband to Shelby County by making it easy to do business. Part of their duties include working with the Center City Council and the Commissioners Court to update polices and ordinances, along with updating social media sites and government sites with information. A second option is housing a dedicated person in the Shelby County Treasurer’s Office where vendor information is currently stored.

Action 2 – The new broadband manager, Judge Harbison, and the Commissioners Court should review current policies to ensure they are working efficiently and effectively.

Below are some strategies for review:

  • Compare local polices around zoning, permitting, and access to rights-of-way (ROW) to other communities that are nearer completion of broadband build-out to enable Shelby County to learn best practices.
  • Reach out to providers and host listening sessions to determine any barriers they have encountered with deployment. These may include complicated right-of-way negotiations; leasing pole attachments; county approvals; fees; and other challenges. If patterns emerge, consider policy or process changes. Hosting a listening session with providers can speed up the time it takes to deploy internet in Shelby. Providers can discuss their biggest barriers, such as:
    • Permitting processes
    • Relationships with pole owners
    • Right-of-way issues

Action 3 - Review and update any Shelby County websites with detailed information about broadband deployment in Shelby County.

Currently, vendors are directed to to start the process of registering with Shelby County, but there is no information available about the process.

Other websites that should be linked to “how to do business in Shelby County” include , , , and Additionally, the following information should be made available:

  • The local point of contact for broadband deployment projects
  • Links to the most current maps:
  • Detailed application and permit fees and guidance on submitting payment for these fees
  • Standards for construction of poles and other infrastructure
  • Maintenance policy after the infrastructure is deployed

Action 4 - If necessary, Judge Harbison and the Commissioners Court should update any policies and ordinances that are deemed to create significant and avoidable barriers to broadband deployment.

Responsible Parties

Judge Harbison, The Commissioners Court, The Center Economic Development Director (a new director is being named at the time of this writing) and County Treasurer Anne Blackwell, Local broadband providers, including Charter Communications



Coordinate, develop, and promote digital skills training and the use of public Wi-fi, which can have a significant impact on the quality of life within Shelby County.


Action 1 – Partner with local organizations to promote and provide free and/or low-cost classes.

The broadband engagement head should lead the effort to provide training to eliminate the skills barrier to broadband adoption. The classes can be taught by local experts, nonprofits, or via online classes. Some examples of potential partners include Shelby Chamber of Commerce, Fannie Brown Booth Memorial Library, Timpson Public Library District, Panola College, public school districts (Timpson ISD, Shelbyville ISD, Center ISD, Joaquin ISD, and Tenaha ISD), and Shelby County Health Department. The basic prerequisites for offering these classes include a facility with training computers, adequate high-speed internet service, and a trainer with the required skills.

This is inexpensive to offer and should be done immediately. Some examples of courses to offer include:

  • Digital skill classes
  • Website building classes
  • Social media classes
  • Telehealth classes

Below are some free digital skills training resources:

Action 2 – Support and Expand Publicly available Wi-Fi throughout Shelby County.

Shelby County public schools and government buildings are doing a good job providing free Wi-Fi to the public, but more needs to be done. More hotspots and fixed broadband sites need to be available in more public places. Examples include local hotels, Windham Civic Center, coffee shops, retail stores, libraries, and Center City Hall. Public Wi-Fi can be promoted through websites, social media, and businesses. Residents who cannot access the internet at home should have public Wi-Fi available to do business such as banking, insurance, and shopping online. Even with RDOF money coming into the Shelby County, there will always be a percentage of the population that will need public Wi-Fi due to the many barriers of adoption.

Responsible Parties

The broadband engagement lead should seek partnerships with organizations such as Shelby Chamber of Commerce, Fannie Brown Booth Memorial Library, Timpson Public Library District, Panola College, public school districts (Timpson ISD, Shelbyville ISD, Center ISD, Joaquin ISD, and Tenaha ISD), and Shelby County Health Department.

The broadband engagement lead should partner with local organizations that are currently providing free Wi-Fi.


Free Training Resources:


Although there was a low response from the public safety sector in the survey, after speaking with county leadership, it is of concern that the technology used to communicate in the National Forest terrain is not operational, thus leaving public safety entities unable to communicate. Action is being taken to replace inoperable microwaves on three towers to functioning microwaves. A third-party company has been identified to perform this work.


Shelby County needs to replace the inoperable backhaul network to current technology and obtain a maintenance and service contract through a third-party.


Action 1 – Facilitate discussions with public safety personnel.

Judge Harbison and the Commissioner Court should hold public discussions for public safety personnel to have input on their communication needs in the southeast part of the county where the National Forest is located. Participants should include Fire Department Chief Keith Byndom and Sheriff Kevin Windham. When hiring a third-party to replace inoperable microwaves, discuss and understand new technology, including newer microwave technology that can service the needs of the public safety network. Chief Keith Byndom of Center Fire Department and Sheriff Kevin Windham will be great resources.

Action 2 – Deploy a Request for Proposals (RFP).

A request for proposals (RFP) should be deployed to find the right company to perform service and maintenance on the new technology, so the public safety emergency network never becomes inoperable again. This contract should be reviewed yearly by the Commissioners Court to make sure Shelby County’s needs are being met.

Responsible Parties

  • Judge Harbison and the Commissioner Court
  • Fire Department Chief Keith Byndom and Sheriff Kevin Windham
  • Third-party vendors specializing in RFP writing.


  • FirstNet:
  • Public Safety Communications:
  • The Commissioners Court should review contract yearly with input from Chief Byndom and Sheriff Windham.
  • Connected Nation can help Shelby County construct a meaningful RFP and review responses to help the county make sense of the responses.