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. With a location, however, fixed broadband service is often broadcast as a Wi-Fi network to connect nearby devices.
Below is an interactive map showing broadband availability in the community.
Three out of five survey respondents in Jones County (60%) indicated they telework, with an additional 7% of respondents indicating they own or operate a business from their home. Yet, in almost all community sectors, survey respondents indicated by and large the leading reasons for dissatisfaction with their current internet service provider were slow speeds and unreliable connections. Teleworkers need reliable and fast internet connections to fulfill professional obligations. Looking beyond telework, reliable and fast internet is essential to connectivity and functionality. For Jones County, the issue is not a lack of broadband use, it is a lack of fast and reliable broadband that meets the needs of the community members. Improving broadband speeds and connectivity will come with associated costs, making partnerships with community organizations, internet service providers, and financial supporters advantageous for the community and its residents.
Promote greater broadband access, adoption, and use in Jones County through broadband infrastructure improvements.
Action 1 – To effectively understand the broadband funding landscape in Jones County, community leaders should meet with internet service providers who have already been allocated federal money, including recipients of funding through the Connect America Fund (CAF) and the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF).
The community should meet with local ISPs to assess the status of ongoing or upcoming infrastructure improvement and expansion projects. As Jones County considers expanding and improving broadband infrastructure, the goal should be to pursue strategic projects that are not needlessly redundant (i.e., expand access where RDOF and CAF winners are already working).
RDOF (Phase I Auction Winning Bids):
AMG Technology (Nextlink) – 3 locations – $1,932
LTD Broadband – 6 locations – $4,428
Resound Networks – 1,666 locations – $1,450,838.90
CAF (Phase II Auction Winning Bids):
AMG Technology (Nextlink)- 191 locations – $156,381.50
ISPs who attended the May Provider Meeting:
Taylor Telecom: Paul Beale
Nextlink: Steve Burks
Rise Broadband: Stephen Miller
AT&T: Rick Tyler & Ed Casko
Action 2 – During meetings with providers, the community should discuss the role the county or a city could play (through financial backing or strategic partnership) to speed up project completion, ensure project completion, or start a new one altogether.
Ultimately, Jones County should play a strategic role in ongoing or planned projects that will widely benefit the most residents.
Jones County has been allocated $3.9 million in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. While the county does not have to make any decisions about spending these funds until the Treasury Department issues final rules, it is important for the community to begin building relationships with local providers in preparation for passage of those final rules. Should Jones County choose to spend any of the federal funds on broadband, it is important that they are prepared, informed, and readily equipped to begin working with reliable partners.
Action 3 – Jones County should establish and maintain relationships with regional organizations and elected officials.
Additionally, the county should engage in regional broadband planning efforts with the express intent of improving broadband access, adoption, and use among Jones County residents and surrounding communities. Not only will residents benefit from broadband improvement in Jones County, they will reap the benefit of broadband advancements in surrounding communities economically, technologically, and socially.
Regional Organizations and Elected Officials to Partner With:
• West Central Texas Council of Governments
• Chambers of Commerce (Anson and Stamford)
• Other “Connected Communities”: Fisher, Shackelford, Throckmorton, others to come
• Rep. Stan Lambert’s Office
Local units of government; broadband providers; community and regional organizations
Community leaders should begin meeting with internet service providers within three months of receiving this plan. While Jones County does not have to allocate funding or spend federal dollars within that same three months, the community should outline the scope of broadband infrastructure projects (ongoing and planned) within that timeline.
• Texas Broadband Providers by County https://connectednation.org/texas/planning/
• Auction 904: Rural Digital Opportunity Fund https://www.fcc.gov/auction/904
• Connect America Fund Phase II FAQs https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/connect-america-fund-phase-ii-faqs
• Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/coronavirus/assistance-for-state-local-and-tribal-governments/state-and-local-fiscal-recovery-funds
• Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, County Allocation https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/fiscalrecoveryfunds_countyfunding_2021.05.10-1a-508A.pdf
• Guide to Federal Broadband Funding Opportunities in the U.S.
• Current Broadband Funding https://connectednation.org/current-broadband-funding
• BroadbandUSA: Federal Funding Guide https://broadbandusa.ntia.doc.gov/resources/federal
Establishing a formal, long-term community Technology Action Committee can help to sustain the implementation of the technology action plan and the growth of broadband and technology access, adoption, and use in the community. Ideally, the team would: 1) promote broadband and technology access, adoption, and use; 2) monitor local, national, and global technology trends; 3) educate the community on broadband and technology and empower digital engagement; 4) attend and facilitate events focused on technology innovation, broadband infrastructure, and connectivity in general; 5) take action on recommendations from the plan as well as others that promote sustainable broadband solutions.
Promote sustainable short- and long-term technology goals in Jones County.
Action 1 – The Jones County Commissioners Court should commission a comprehensive community group referred to as the Technology Action Committee.
The committee should include individuals who represent all community sectors including healthcare, government, education, public safety, agriculture, communications, etc. The committee’s ultimate intention should be to pursue and implement short- and long-term technology goals. The committee should pursue sustainable and forward-thinking technology solutions that will benefit residents, businesses, and community organizations in Jones County.
Members could include:
• Healthcare: Clinic Director, Family Doctors, Hospital Director
• Government: County Judge, County Commissioners, Mayor, City Council, County IT Director
• Education: Superintendents, School IT Directors (Anson ISD, Hawley ISD, Hamlin ISD, Stamford ISD, Lueders-Avoca ISD)
• Public Safety: Sheriff, Volunteer Fire Chief, TDCJ and ICE Rep., EMS
• Agriculture: County Ag Agent, Leading Ag Producers
• Communications: CEO, Government Affairs, Communications Director of ISPs
• Business: Chamber of Commerce President (Anson and Stamford Chamber), Stamford Development Corporation
• At-Large Community Members: Passionate Jones County residents who can be the hands and feet of committee efforts
Action 2 – The committee should meet at least once a month.
Meetings can be held virtually or in-person to accommodate needs of members. These meetings should cover community happenings of the prior month, allow time for guest speakers and presentations, and offer an open forum for discussion about broadband advancements in Jones County.
The responsibilities of the committee should include:
• Stay up-to-date on state and federal broadband legislation
• Maintain awareness and help Jones County apply for federal and state grants
• Monitor state, national, and global technology trends
• Ensure digital engagement in Jones County in all community sectors (telehealth, telework, online learning, Wi-Fi in businesses, etc.)
• Update Commissioners Court, City Council and other governing bodies as needed
• Attend workshops, webinars, meetings, and general training that discuss broadband specifically and telecommunications generally
• Provide digital literacy and digital skills assistance to at-risk populations in the community
Action 3 – Each committee member should promote sustainable technology best-practices in their respective community sector and in the community overall.
This looks like targeted outreach, social media marketing, and conversations with community stakeholders. Through a coordinated effort, Jones County will be able to prepare for the future while also ensuring residents are fully engaged online in the here and now.
By staying apprised of local, state, and national technology trends and appointing a core group of community members to stay informed of ongoing telecommunications activities, Jones County will be a leader in the digital space in the short- and long-term.
Community anchor institution: schools, businesses, hospitals, agriculture centers; government leaders and elected officials; community residents
The Commissioners Court should designate members of the Technology Action Committee within 16 weeks of receiving this plan.
• Municipal Boards: Best Practices for Adoption Technology https://insights.diligent.com/boardroom-technology-local-government/municipal-boards-best-practices-for-adopting-technology
• Smart Cities Readiness Guide https://rg.smartcitiescouncil.com/
• Texas Broadband Providers by County https://connectednation.org/texas/planning/
Broadband connects people to the world and opens the door to opportunity. Where there is broadband, there is development, achievement, and innovation. In rural Texas, broadband looks like economic development, greater scholastic achievement, workforce expansion, connection to telehealth services, infrastructure improvement, and general technological advancements. When embraced as an integral part of life, broadband contributes to a thriving community and promotes greater quality of life for residents. In Jones County, it is important to embrace and market the known, evident benefits of broadband to facilitate continued community expansion and improvement.
Demonstrate Jones County’s digital preparedness through community development, online engagement, and high quality-of-life standards.
Action 1 – The aforementioned Technology Action Committee will create marketing materials that showcase Jones County’s digital preparedness.
The committee, in conjunction with government leaders (city and county level), should identify advocates in each of the following areas who will assist with this marketing endeavor. The following are areas that most directly impact residents’ quality of life. These factors will become the foundation of the community’s broadband marketing strategy.
Telework: Telework offers greater flexibility in work schedules and expands the number of job opportunities for rural Texans, while also increasing the number of potential applicants for employers.
Telehealth: Online medical services allow residents to speak with top-of-the-line doctors, dentists, surgeons, dermatologists, veterinarians, and medical specialists through the click of the button. These online services are not only important in times of emergency, but they allow residents flexibility when meeting with medical professionals.
Public Safety (911, interoperable networks): With reliable broadband comes increased public safety capability for EMS and police, fire departments. Not only can first responders communicate reliably with each other using mobile devices in the field, they can communicate with other agencies at the local, state, and federal level.
Digital entertainment (streaming services, gaming platforms): While school and work have long been linked with internet needs, at-home entertainment is now largely dependent on broadband. From smart TVs to gaming consoles, broadband is what ensures a family can stream Netflix, play games, and surf the web all the same time.
Online learning (K-12, higher education): Digital platforms connect teachers, administrators, and students alike with new and innovative curriculum and learning techniques. With reliable broadband throughout the county, students can connect to online, educational platforms from the school building and their kitchen table.
E-commerce: As businesses and community organizations expand their online presence, they expand their customer pool and ultimately increase profit. By utilizing websites and social media to market services and sell products, businesses are able to take part in a larger digital economy.
Community Advocates to Consider:
• Telework: Chambers of Commerce: Anson Chamber, Stamford Chamber
• Telehealth: Anson General Hospital, Anson Plaza Pharmacy, Anson Senior Living, Valley View Care Center, Stamford Health Department, Stamford Healthcare System, Stamford Family Health Center Clinic
• Public Safety: Hawley PD, Anson PD, MTC Bluebonnet Detention Center, Hamlin PD, Jones County Sheriff’s Office, Stamford PD, TDCJ, Jones County EMC, Volunteer Fire (Anson, Hawley, Stamford, Hamlin, Lueders)
• Digital Entertainment: Internet Service Providers
• Online Learning: Superintendents (Anson ISD, Hawley ISD, Hamlin ISD, Stamford ISD, Lueders-Avoca ISD)
• E-Commerce: Stamford Development Corporation, Commissioners Court
Action 2 – Once the community has established key areas of broadband impact, the next step is to develop marketing materials that can be used locally, regionally, and across the state.
The marketing materials should focus on the areas identified in action 1. Furthermore, the materials should highlight how important broadband is to community leaders and their commitment to technology advancement. While the majority of the marketing materials should highlight the lifestyle that broadband affords residents, it will also be important to highlight how community organizations, such as libraries, schools, businesses, and government entities, use broadband to contribute to overall quality of life. It is important that community organizations are given the opportunity to provide quotes, pictures, and material for the digital ads. The community should use free online tools to create and edit the marketing material.
Action 3- Once the marketing materials are created, the next step is to distribute them far and wide.
The goal is two-part. First, Jones County wants residents to see the value of living and doing business in the community. This goal is largely to retain residents who currently live in the community by showcasing all the resources and benefits offered by the county. Second, Jones County wants non-residents to hear about the county for the first time, discover the possibilities, and come for a visit — ideally a lifelong visit that includes buying a house, land, and sending their kids to the local elementary school. New residents, visitors, and businesses represent economic growth, job opportunities, and continued community growth/improvement.
Community institutions: businesses, schools, libraries, organizations; local government leaders and elected officials; community residents; media outlets
With greater community development and expansion comes great opportunities for all residents. The sooner Jones County takes action to promote digital preparedness the sooner residents will see and experience the benefits. Jones County should begin developing marketing materials within six months of this action plan. By Q2 2022, Jones County should have published materials highlighting the digital preparedness of the community.
• The Secret to Marketing Your City https://medium.com/@NYUurbanlab/the-secret-to-marketing-your-city-af563cde244
• 14 City Marketing Strategies to Attract More Travelers https://www.revfine.com/city-marketing/
• Texas Broadband Providers by County https://connectednation.org/texas/planning/
• New study shows digital preparedness helped organizations adapt to COVID-19 https://news.microsoft.com/2021/05/06/new-study-shows-digital-preparedness-helped-organizations-adapt-to-covid-19/
• The $0 Marketing Stack: 41 Free Options to Popular Paid Services and Tools https://buffer.com/library/free-marketing-tools/