The Young County 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 Recommended Actions section includes steps the community can implement to improve the broadband and technology ecosystem at a local level.
It should be noted that the assessment was conducted during 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 following map shows where broadband is available in the community.
The state of Texas is eligible for $4 billion under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) via the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program and the Digital Equity Act. These programs will fund projects that help expand high-speed internet access and ensure Texas communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy by promoting a diverse array of digital advancement projects. With this once-in-a-generation infusion of money coming from the federal government, it is critical that Young County establishes a formal Broadband Council to ensure work is completed as part of this local engagement. The council is also vital to ensuring that the community is staying on top of the state, local, and federal broadband happenings. A standing group of leaders is already active in the county as it relates to broadband space. Moving forward, it’s a matter of making it official.
Objective: Establish a permanent broadband team in Young County that can serve as the go-to point of contact for questions, meetings, and projects.
Action 1 – Establish a Broadband Council to act as advisors to the county and appoint a Broadband Liaison to lead the effort.
Broadband Council advisory members should include representatives from a wide variety of community stakeholders, such as:
· Health Care: Local physicians or hospital staff
· Government: County Judge, County Commissioners, Mayor, City Council, County IT Director
· Education (K-12): Superintendents, School IT Directors
· Education (Higher-Education): University, community college, trade schools or workforce training
· Public Safety: County Sheriff’s Office, Police Department, Fire and Rescue and surrounding Volunteer Fire Departments, Emergency Medical Services
· Agriculture: County Ag Agent, leading ag producers
· Business: Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development
· Library: Public Library Directors, librarians
· Community At-Large: Someone from the community who is interested in broadband
Broadband Council responsibilities should include:
· Keep abreast of state and national broadband policy initiatives and notable broadband news. Stay up to date on publications, events, and policy briefs published by the Governor’s Broadband Development Council (GBDC) and Broadband Development Office (BDO), as well as monitor notable broadband developments via industry newsletters and focused research.
· Keep the community informed of projects and progress, and invite community participation to maintain buy-in and high adoption rates. Getting community buy-in is essential to the long-term success and sustainability of community initiatives. Success of local initiatives requires community support, transparency, and engagement. Not only will this help keep the momentum going, but it will show ISPs there is true interest for expanded service in the area, which will encourage greater investment in the region.
· Stay up to date on state and federal broadband legislation.
· Apply for applicable state and federal grant programs.
· Ensure digital engagement in all community sectors (telehealth, telework, education, commerce, etc.).
· Attend workshops, webinars, meetings, and general training that discuss telecommunications, and broadband specifically.
· Provide digital literacy and digital skills assistance to the community’s at-risk populations.
· Hold regular meetings. The council should meet at least once a month. Meetings can be held virtually, in person, or in a hybrid capacity to accommodate members’ needs. These meetings should provide updates on community activities, allow time for guest speakers and presentations, and offer an open forum for discussion about broadband advancements in the county.
Timeline: Establish an official Broadband Council and select a countywide liaison immediately.
Responsible Parties: Economic Development Director, County Judge, City Manager, and Director of Chamber of Commerce
Action 2 – Appoint a Broadband Council leader.
The broadband team needs a point person, a champion for connectivity in the county. Whether paid or volunteer, part-time or full-time, this person will be the point of contact for broadband in the county. They will stay up to date on broadband policy news, new construction projects in the region, new laws, and funding opportunities, as well as maintain visibility to keep the community educated and engaged in internet adoption and expanded internet deployment.
Timeline: Establish an official broadband team and select a countywide team leader immediately.
Responsible Parties: County Judge, Commissioners Court, Economic Director, and Broadband Council
Action 3 – Track state and national broadband policy.
The Broadband Council should remain informed and up to date on publications, events, and policy briefs published by the Governor’s Broadband Development Council (GBDC) and the Broadband Development Office (BDO). The committee should coordinate ongoing community outreach efforts and initiatives in alignment with the long-term objectives of the aforementioned entities. The Broadband Council’s priorities should mirror the successes and objectives laid out by the state. Taking advantage of federal and state funding as it becomes available will position Young County to increase digital opportunities for all residents.
- The FCC High-Cost program: CAF A-CAM
- The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF)
- Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, Allocation by County
- ARPA SLFRF, Final Rule
- Governor’s Broadband Development Council
- The Texas Statute
- Senate Bill 1238
- The 2021 Governor's Broadband Development Council's Report
- The 2020 Governor's Broadband Development Council's Report
- The Texas Broadband Development Office
- The Texas Broadband Plan 2022
- Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, County Allocation
- Final Rule
- CN’s list of Current Broadband Funding
- BroadbandUSA: Federal Funding Guide
- Guide to Federal Broadband Funding Opportunities in the U.S.
- Texas Broadband Providers by County
- Smart Cities Readiness Guide
- Next Century Cities Becoming Broadband Ready Toolkit
- Municipal Boards: Best Practices for Adoption Technology
The FCC defines broadband as a 25 Mbps download speed by 3 Mbps upload speed connection (25/3). In Young County, per the FCC 2022 Broadband Map, 84.45% of households have access to internet at broadband speeds of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, leaving 1,327 households unserved. Eighty-eight-point-eight percent of Young County residents have access to 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload speed (FCC, 2022). Residents were prompted to either self-report the broadband speed they subscribe to from their internet provider or take a speed test through the survey portal. Data revealed that, on average, 68% of households subscribe to download speeds faster than 25 Mbps. Young County households reported an average download speed of 129 Mbps.
Sixty-two percent of residential respondents indicated they were dissatisfied with their internet service due to slow speeds and unreliable connections. This level of dissatisfaction contributes to 78% of the respondents requesting additional choices for home internet service.
Objective: Support and expand fast and reliable high-speed internet to Young County.
Action 1 – Maintain open communication and positive relations with internet service providers (ISP)s working in the county, as well as any ISPs with plans to work in the county or those that have received federal funding to begin work in the county.
The Broadband Council should conduct regular check-ins with area providers to stay abreast of proposed and ongoing broadband expansion efforts, including construction and expansion progress or changes in plans, to identify any obstacles or challenges they are facing, and to communicate community goals and objectives. Open communication allows ISPs to better understand community needs, and communities to better understand the obstacles and barriers ISPs face. This understanding can encourage creative problem-solving, which can lead to finding solutions through public-private partnerships. Public-private partnerships are arrangements between public entities, such as local governments, and private entities, such as service providers, to achieve a common goal. They are often, but not always, funding arrangements.
Additionally, the county should strive to be an environment that is amenable to business. This means having easy-to-use websites that allow ISPs and vendors quick access to relevant information, as well as fostering a business environment that rewards open communication and timely resolution of concerns. Of local businesses surveyed, 71.4% said they were satisfied with their current internet service. Those that said they were dissatisfied stated that poor customer service, slow speeds, and unreliable connections were the key reasons.
ISPs working in Young County, based on June 2022 FCC and CN data, are AT&T Inc., Brazos Communications, New Source Broadband, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular Corp., Verizon, and Zito Media.
Timeline: Young County Broadband Council should reach out to ISPs for an initial meeting with community stakeholders and decision makers as soon as Broadband Council leadership is established.
The website should serve as a one-stop resource guide for broadband providers, community residents, and local leaders. Online materials should include resources related to digital literacy, digital skills, reduced-cost broadband offerings, public-computing centers, and other relevant information for residents and ISPs. This website should be prominently promoted on a countywide website that is commonly accessed by the public. The content on the site should be monitored and maintained by the county-appointed Broadband Liaison.
Households without an internet connection face many barriers to obtaining connectivity. In Young County, 33% of residents who do not subscribe to home broadband service stated it was because the service is too expensive. Everyone should be able to access the internet, regardless of income level. It’s important for the Broadband Council and community leaders to promote free and reduced-cost internet programs for residents. Additionally, low-income residents may be eligible for assistance with their monthly home internet expenses from ISPs with low-cost internet packages and government internet subsidy programs that address internet affordability.
Objective: Increase access adoption and use of broadband by addressing cost barriers in Young County.
Action 1 – Promote programs that help residents overcome affordability barriers to broadband adoption, including Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program.
Information about the availability of public Wi-Fi and public computers should be shared widely on the county broadband resources website references in Goal 2, posted on social media, and promoted throughout the community. Information about monthly internet subsidy programs and ISPs with low-cost subscription packages should be kept updated and shared widely on the resources website, at the library, on social media, and promoted throughout the community.
There are two main federal internet subsidy programs, and ISPs often have their own low-cost programs as well:
Lifeline is a federal program administered through the FCC Universal Service Administrative Co. that lowers the monthly cost of phone or internet services for eligible consumers, who can get up to $9.25 off the cost of phone, internet, or bundled services each month. Households can qualify based on income or participation in federal or tribal assistance programs. More information can be found here.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was created to help households struggling to afford internet service. The ACP provides a $30 a month credit toward internet coverage ($75 a month for qualifying residents on tribal lands) and up to $100 for the purchase of a device. Households can qualify based on income or participation in federal or tribal assistance programs. To receive the connected device discount, consumers must enroll in the ACP with a participating provider. The internet company will provide the discount to the consumer, then seek reimbursement. Find out which providers participate click here. More information about the program can be found here.
The ACP tool kit is a great resource that communities can use to promote the program to residents.
ISPs often have their own low-cost options or subsidized programs offering internet for consumers at a reduced cost, so customers should always ask. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) of 2021 requires internet providers that receive federal grant money to offer low-cost service to eligible low-income households. As of April 2023, Young County had 436 households enrolled in the ACP program (Universal Service Administrative Co., 2023).
Timeline: Broadband Council should share information about affordability programs immediately.
Objective: Partner with libraries and community organizations to provide digital literacy training.
Action 1 – Encourage the Library of Graham and the Olney Library to continue offering digital literacy classes, either in person or virtually.
Public libraries can be a great resource for residents without internet at home to connect online. Young County is home to the Olney Community Library and Arts Center and the Library of Graham, which have a large number of public computers for use — 23 and 20, respectively.
CN Texas is currently offering in-person and online digital literacy classes in basic computer skills that libraries can promote to residents. Additional topics could include more advanced technology, such as product-specific training on devices, modern technology like smart home devices or wearable technology, cybersecurity, and advanced software applications like multimedia and design programs.
Action 2 – Encourage Young County libraries or community organizations, such as chambers of commerce or service organizations, to offer web design and online marketing classes for local businesses.
A 2018 study commissioned by Google, “Connecting Small Businesses in the U.S.,” found that the main reason businesses were not engaging online was not lack of access, but lack of an understanding of the value it brings. According to the study, small businesses that are active online are three times as likely to have recently hired additional workers than those that are not.
Young County businesses could benefit from expanded online activity. Survey data indicate that nearly 39% of responding Young County residents interact with non-local business online daily, and 25% at least once a week. Only 46% of Young County residents interact with local business online daily, despite the fact that over 70% of responding businesses have a website. The primary ways that responding business interact online are email (83% daily, 17% at least once a week), Facebook (67% daily), and website update (33% daily, 17% at least once a month). Young County residents are doing business online, so expanding local businesses’ online presence could be an opportunity for local businesses to increase revenue and keep funds local.
Timeline: Young County should begin digital literacy training for residents and businesses within six months.
Responsible Parties: Broadband Council, community institutions such as businesses, schools, libraries, organizations, local government leaders and elected officials, broadband providers, and community residents
Digital Literacy, many free resources exist for digital literacy training
- Connected Nation Digital Literacy Workshops
- Digital Learn – Free courses to learn anything about computers
- On-Site Technology Training for Small, Rural Michigan Businesses
Objective: Ensure that Young County utilizes all available resources to improve quality of life and economic outcomes through technology.
Action 1 – Pursue grants that advance local community development using broadband technologies (e.g., workforce development, telehealth, digital literacy, etc.).
In conjunction with the countywide Connected Community Engagement, Young County has been allocated $7,500 in funding to pursue applicable grant applications, if identified. For specifics, contact your CN Broadband Solutions Manager.
Timeline: Community should identify grant opportunities within one year.
Responsible Parties: Local and county governments, Young County Broadband Council