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.
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.
Establish broadband leadership and increase buy-in among community stakeholders.
The King County Connected community engagement gathered data over two months from eight sectors in King County: residents, agriculture, business, government, healthcare, K-12 education, libraries, and public safety.
Connected Nation mapping data shows that King County households are 66.81% served at 25 Mbps download speed and 3 Mbps upload speed, with 38 households unserved at 25/3. King County households are 41.88% served at 100 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload, leaving 66 households unserved at 100/10. Only 33% of surveyed households subscribe to download speeds faster than 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. On average, King County households reported download speeds of 25.9 Mbps.
As the most recent CN data was released in January 2022, it stands that some service expansion or changes may have taken place. The principal Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the County, Caprock Telephone Cooperative, clarified that they had offered fiber to the home to every household in the County since the most recent CN data was released and were unable to offer it, due to distance, to only one residence.
Despite the availability of faster internet speeds in the County, adoption rates are not high. Of residents without internet access at home, all said that internet service was too expensive. Additionally, a quarter of these residents indicate that mobile internet service is their primary home internet source.
Overall, community satisfaction rates with internet service are high in King County. 92.3% of residents feel their service meets their needs (compared to only 42.3% in other Connected communities). Even with this overall level of satisfaction, 76.9% of respondents say they would like to have improved or additional options for home internet service. Of the 7.7% of survey respondents who are unsatisfied with their current internet service, 100% say that the reasons are that speeds are too slow and the connection is unreliable. Additional community feedback stressed the importance of communication for schools, county government, farmers and ranchers, emergency personnel, and health care.
When looking at connectivity, having a holistic view is important. Access, or having a physical connection to the internet, is a key component. Ensuring that residents can adopt and use the internet to support their education, workforce, healthcare, and other needs is also important.
These findings indicate that King County is fortunate to have reasonable access, with fiber to the home available. Still, increased adoption rates would help ensure digital equity, and expanded access to digital literacy would benefit residents and the critical economic sector of the County: agriculture.
Action 1 – Establish a permanent Broadband Council to act as advisors to the County and appoint a Broadband Liaison to lead the effort.
Building on the success of the King County broadband community team, a permanent broadband council should be formed with the current broadband leaders in the county and additional members from the community. Maintaining a broadband focus and establishing leadership is essential. Additionally, the Broadband Council 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 be the person who stays up to date on broadband policy news, new construction projects in the region, new laws, and funding opportunities, as well as maintains a community presence to keep the community educated and engaged in internet adoption and expanded internet deployment.
Members of the Broadband Council should include representatives from a wide variety of community stakeholders, such as:
- Health care: Local physicians, health care providers
- Government: County Judge, County Commissioners
- Education (K-12): GCSD superintendent, school/district 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, business owners, managers
- Library: Library Director, Librarian
- Community At-Large: Someone from the community who is interested in broadband
Broadband council responsibilities should include:
- Keeping abreast of state and national broadband policy initiatives and notable broadband news. Stay up to date on any 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.
- Keeping 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. The 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 in expanded service in the area, which will encourage greater investment in the region.
- Staying up to date on state and federal broadband legislation.
- Applying for applicable state and federal grant programs.
- Ensuring digital engagement in all community sectors (telehealth, telework, education, commerce, etc.).
- Attending workshops, webinars, meetings, and general training that discuss telecommunications, and broadband specifically.
- Providing digital literacy and digital skills assistance to the community’s at-risk populations.
- Holding 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: County Judge, Commissioners Court, community broadband team
Action 2 – Maintain open communications and positive relations with internet service providers (ISPs) working in the County, as well as any ISP with plans to work in the County, or that has received federal funding to begin work in the County.
King County is fortunate to have good internet coverage and good relations with ISPs serving the county. Maintaining these good relationships should be a priority. This should include regular check-ins with providers to stay abreast of construction and expansion progress or changes in plans, to identify any obstacles or challenges they are facing, and to communicate community goals and objectives. The community should reach out to area ISPs with connectivity concerns to identify opportunities.
Open communication allows ISPs to better understand community needs and for 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 ISPs, 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 providers and vendors quick access to relevant information, as well as fostering a business environment that rewards open communication and timely resolution of concerns.
ISPs working in King County, based on January 2022 FCC and CN data are Cap Rock Telephone Cooperative, Santa Rosa Telephone Cooperative, and T-Mobile.
Timeline: Council should reach out to ISPs for an initial meeting with community stakeholders and decision-makers as soon as Broadband Council leadership is established.
Action 3 – Pursue grants that advance local community development using broadband technologies (e.g., workforce development, telehealth, digital literacy, etc.).
The Broadband Council can play a leading role in learning about and coordinating responses to local, state, and federal broadband grant opportunities. The Council can also seek funding from philanthropic, private, and corporate funders to support the recommendations in this report, as well as other connectivity priorities the County identifies as important.
In conjunction with the countywide Connected Community Engagement, King County has been allocated funding to pursue applicable grant applications, if identified. For specifics, contact your Connected Nation Broadband Solutions Manager.
- The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF)
- Governor’s Broadband Development Council
- The Texas Statute
- 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
Assist King County’s low-income residents with access to the internet by utilizing subsidy programs to make high-speed internet more affordable at home and addressing broadband adoption by promoting digital literacy and technology.
According to US Census data, 92.2% of King County residents subscribe to the internet, but CN Texas’ residential survey shows only 33% of King County households subscribe to the internet at speeds faster than 25 Mbps, the minimum speed for broadband. The recommended speed to use modern applications is 100 Mbps. Most of the survey responding King County residents subscribe to internet at speeds below broadband (44% subscribe to the internet at 10 Mbps – 24.99 Mbps; 22% subscribe to the internet at 3 Mbps – 9.99 Mbps speeds). Twenty-two percent subscribe at 25 Mbps – 49.99 Mbps speeds, 11% subscribe at 50 Mbps – 99.99 Mbps speeds, and no survey respondent indicated that they subscribe to 100 Mbps or above speeds. This means that even where high speed internet is available, people are not signing up for it. This generally has two causes: people do not see the value in it, or they cannot afford it.
To combat affordability, federal subsidy programs exist to help residents with the monthly costs of internet, and internet service providers also often offer low-cost packages. Digital literacy training can increase adoption rates in a community by helping people understand the value of being connected. Being connected can offer access to skills, education and entertainment, improved outcomes in health care, and other positive impacts on quality of life. Communities with higher adoption rates not only reap more benefits of connectivity, but they are more desirable markets for ISPs and more likely to attract infrastructure expansion projects.
Action 1 – The Broadband Council should share resources about internet subsidy programs to residents to address affordability concerns.
While the average monthly cost of internet is less in King County than in other Connected communities ($67.05 a month average in King County versus $78.17 in other Connected communities), using the standard 2% of median income as a metric to determine affordability, the affordable cost of internet for King County would be $65.48 a month. Internet packages with 25 Mbps + speeds are available in the County but are more expensive than that. Most of the survey responding households in King County subscribe to internet packages with speeds lower than 25 Mbps.
There are two main federal internet subsidy programs to assist low-income residents with the cost of internet. ISPs need to participate in them for residents to benefit. Where ISPs do not participate in federal subsidy programs, the Broadband Council should find out why not and what can be done to encourage them to do so.
- 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 need to enroll in the ACP with a participating provider that offers connected devices. The internet company will provide the discount to the consumer, then seek reimbursement, to find out which providers participate click here. The ACP tool kit is a great resource that communities can use to promote the program to residents.
- Lifeline is a federal program administered through the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Universal Service Administrative Company that lowers the monthly cost of phone or internet services for eligible consumers. Eligible consumers 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.
ISPs often have their own low-cost options or subsidized programs offering internet for consumers at a greatly reduced cost, so customers should always ask. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) of 2021 requires ISPs that receive federal grant money to offer low-cost service to eligible low-income households.
Free or low-cost internet programs available in King County by ISPs* are:
- T-Mobile USA, Inc.: ACP, Project 10Million
*Information subject to change, please check with your area providers to stay up to date on offerings.
Action 2 – The Broadband Council, local community-based organizations, community anchor institutions, and others should encourage increased broadband adoption by promoting digital literacy training and technology events.
Digital literacy training is an excellent way to get community members interested in technology and up to speed. Increasing access to digital skills training, from basic computer and internet basics to cybersecurity to more advanced application-specific information, will allow residents to increase digital competencies and feel more comfortable navigating the internet.
The Guthrie CSD Public Library is a recent recipient of technology upgrades and could be a great community resource to get people connected. The library is located within the school, and, although it is available to all residents, it is primarily used by the K-12 students. Regular open houses to encourage all residents to visit could be beneficial. The library could offer digital literacy training for students and adults. Additionally, many resources exist to offer courses online or to generate curriculum for in-person training and digital navigation. They could include advanced technology such as product specific training on devices, new technology like smart home devices or wearable technology, cybersecurity, and advanced software applications like multimedia and design programs.
In neighboring Cottle County, the Bicentennial City-County Library recently hosted an all-day technology event to showcase new technology purchases and offerings available to residents, offering separate training for children and adults. Hosting events like these is a great way to increase digital literacy and encourage residents to visit the library to take advantage of new technology upgrades.
Connected Nation currently offers in-person and online digital literacy classes in basic computer skills that libraries can promote to residents.
Broadband Council should share information about affordability programs immediately and begin offering digital literacy or technology events within six months.
- Broadband providers
- Broadband Council
- Guthrie ISD
Improve internet speeds and digital literacy for King County ag producers while championing innovation.
USDA Ag data for King County shows that the primary agricultural activity is cattle ranching, along with horse, goat, and sheep, and crop farming in forage, grains, and cotton.
Agriculture is an essential industry, most often located in rural communities that struggle to access high-speed internet. None of the survey responding ag producers indicated that they have Wi-Fi across their entire operation; they access the internet via a cellular network only. This is in line with other Connected communities - only 3.9% of ag producers have internet access across their entire operation. 65.2% only have Wi-Fi in the main operation buildings and surrounding areas, and 30.9% can only access the internet via a cellular network. This puts unconnected producers at a disadvantage.
Where ag producers have access to high-speed internet, access to technology has transformed the way they work, bringing better outcomes, higher yields, and greater efficiency. Technology will play a large role in agriculture of the future, in how we feed ourselves, protect our natural resources, and conserve our land. In King County the average internet speed among ag producers is 22 Mbps, below the minimum broadband speed of 25 Mbps. The King County Broadband Council should coordinate with the ag community to better understand the technology needs of farmers and ranchers to contribute to their success.
Action 1 – Facilitate communications between ag producers and ISPs to increase internet access.
Most King County ag respondents are online every day. One hundred percent of survey respondents check the weather online, research markets, and attend to banking online daily. At least once a week they go online for USDA information, to use mobile apps for agriculture, to buy supplies, and to visit ag and non-ag related websites. Most respondents (66.7%) say their internet meets their current needs. Of those who say their internet does not meet their needs, 100% said connection is unreliable as their reason.
As ag tech innovations continue to require increased broadband speeds to be implemented, decision makers should be mindful of opportunities to improve broadband access to support the industry. Ag efficiency and profits can be supported by connectivity and technology improvements, and when making decisions about long-term planning these needs should be considered. Additionally, ISPs working in the county have indicated that they are amenable to meeting customer needs wherever possible. Open communications with ISPs serving the county could lead to additional opportunities to expand internet access by ag producers. Options include additional fiber infrastructure or expanding access with fixed wireless via towers. If ag producers feel they would benefit from expanded internet access they should begin the conversation with ISPs to see what can be done.
Action 2 – Partner with the Ag Extension office to offer ag technology training classes or events to improve digital literacy or technology adoption.
Ag tech adoption in King County is not high, but respondents show an interest in learning about technology. Technology currently in use by responding ag producers are nutrient management systems, farm management information systems, telematic equipment monitoring, and remote integrated displays. Respondents were not currently using but expressed an interest in variable-rate irrigation, connected sensors, and GPS-enabled tractors.
This interest in ag tech creates an opportunity for training in the community. Ag sector partners could organize product demonstrations, ag tech seminars, and learning opportunities. The Broadband Council should understand where the interests of ag sector partners are and partner to increase education and access. Education resources could be as simple as sharing links and information about innovations in ag technology on a county broadband resources website or through social media channels. The Ag Extension office could also partner with the GCSD or the public library to offer ag specific digital literacy training classes at the Activity Center. Other education opportunities could include inviting ag technology speakers to present workshops or seminars to local farmers and ranchers, such as a presentation on Smart Ranch technology, such as cattle tags to track cattle, sensors to let ranchers know when gates are open, or when tanks are dry.
King County Broadband Council and King County Agrilife Extension office could partner with their counterparts in surrounding counties for ag tech events to maximize participation. Several neighboring counties have also recently completed Connected engagements to understand their connectivity challenges, including Cottle, Knox, Foard, Hardeman, Clay and Childress counties. Clay County hosted an Ag Technology Summit last year which they hope to become an annual event.
There is no doubt that more connectivity and more technology could benefit America’s family farms and ranches. King County Broadband Council should strive to keep the ag sector in mind with all future planning.
Ag sector classes should begin within six months.
King County AgriLife Extension office, King County Broadband Council, Guthrie CSD, Public Library
- US Dept. of Agriculture
- USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Resources Page
- The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
- Texas Rural Leadership Program
- The Farm Journal: Ag Web, technology
- Free online Agriculture course from universities across the globe
- Ku, Linly. “New Agriculture Technology in Modern Farming.” Plug and Play, October 06, 2021.
Ensure that the Four Sixes Ranch (6666) is apprised of and included in future planning efforts.
King County is fortunate to be the home of the historic Four Sixes ranch, a working ranch since 1870, that has gained international acclaim for its legendary quarter horses and superior Angus cattle. The ranch has found new fans recently by being the location of a successful television program. The historic 6666 Supply House is also home to a thriving online business that ships products internationally. These things are all positives for tourism and economic development in the County.
Action 1 – Include Four Sixes Ranch objectives and concerns in future broadband planning.
The Four Sixes Ranch is an asset to the County and a point of community pride that brings revenue, draws tourism, and benefits residents. The County should strive to keep the Four Sixes in mind when making decisions and keep ranch leaders informed of projects, plans, and activities that could impact them.
Four Sixes Ranch should be invited to participate in the Broadband Council as soon as it is formed.
- King County
- King County Broadband Council
- Area internet service providers
- Four Sixes Ranch