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Gillespie County Joins Innovative Broadband Expansion Effort

GILLESPIE COUNTY, TX (December 19, 2011)  - Gillespie County leaders are now the first in the state to enroll their community in an innovative program that seeks to boost the local economy and quality of life for residents though increased access, adoption, and use of broadband.

Staff from Connected Texas, the statewide nonprofit promoting broadband expansion, are leading Gillespie County leaders through the steps of the new “Connected” community certification program that offers a comprehensive and localized way for communities to bridge the digital divide impacting many communities.

The most current Connected Texas research shows that only 63% of Gillespie County has terrestrial broadband service available at the minimum federal speed of 768 Kbps or above. And for those who have service available, only 48% have adopted the service. That contrasts sharply with the fact that Texas businesses with broadband average $200,000 more in annual median revenues than businesses without. But, a major step forward in closing the digital divide came when officials decided to enroll in the Connected community certification program though Connected Texas.

“One of my pet projects has been and continues to be better high-speed Internet for rural Gillespie County,” said County Economic Development Director Tim Lehmberg. “Topographical considerations leave many of us with only one option which is very limiting and can be extremely frustrating, so it didn’t take much arm-twisting to get me involved in the Connected Texas initiative.”

“Having and using the broadband Internet is critical to the economic vitality of today's local communities,” said Connected Texas Executive Director Don Shirley. “We are excited Gillespie County economic development and local leaders are working with us to proactively address their broadband needs.”

The Connected certification program entails building a comprehensive action plan for developing a technology-ready community by reviewing the technology landscape, developing regional partnerships, establishing local teams, and conducting thorough community assessments.

“Gillespie County is home to many people who have the means to be living anywhere in the world,” said Lehmberg. “These folks continue to run businesses and manage investments from their homes in the county with unacceptable Internet. If collecting and furnishing data for this program will formally demonstrate a need for broadband expansion in our county, then that’s a good first step.”