Broadband Makes US Better: Lessons from the Lone Star State
In Texas, many communities have leveraged creative financing methods for assessing and installing broadband in their communities. If effectively deployed, incoming federal and state broadband funding will create opportunities to bridge longstanding access gaps in low-income and rural communities. The report provides key recommendations for federal, state, local, nonprofit, and community leaders. For federal leaders, the report recommends the following:
- Build flexibility into programs to enable local leaders to tailor solutions to residents’ needs. Further, clear guidance about what is and is not allowed helps communities ensure that their broadband plans do not compromise other funding opportunities.
- Develop comprehensive solutions that promote opportunities for residents to take part in federal programs. Funding directed toward broadband projects should also include outreach funding community outreach and collaborations with trusted community messengers.
- Prepare and support local efforts to hold grantees accountable for serving their communities as promised in the applicant’s federal grant applications.
For state leaders, the report recommends:
- Expand local autonomy over broadband. Local leaders have built-in accountability and earned community trust. Franchise agreements are one area where local autonomy has been limited over the last two decades. Restoring that authority would benefit Texas residents who look to their local leaders for answers to questions about why broadband is not reaching their neighborhoods.
- Coordinate with local leaders on state and regional planning. Collaboration is needed long before programs launch. Ongoing workgroups also ensure that network infrastructure is frequently maintained and upgraded.
- Support community-led broadband programs to compound funding impacts, meeting residents where they are already familiar with accessing services.
For local leaders, the report recommends:
- Conduct listening sessions to capture feedback directly from residents. Also, record local broadband availability and adoption needs to highlight gaps in state and federal datasets.
- Develop partnerships with regional and state leaders to coordinate efforts to identify resources, develop knowledge efficiencies, and create sustainable and expandable broadband initiatives.
For nonprofit leaders, the report recommends:
- Explore mission overlap areas to develop intersectional broadband initiatives.
- Identify barriers to broadband adoption. Oftentimes, they reveal opportunities to fill local needs in partnership with community-based organizations.
For community leaders, the report recommends:
- Get involved in local broadband projects in your community. Volunteer-driven programs expand capacity and invite systemic change from residents.
- Encourage local, nonprofit, and other community leaders to prioritize high-quality broadband for all residents and bring the pressing need for ubiquitous connectivity to the forefront of policy discussions
Broadband Makes US Better: Lessons from the Lone Star StateBroadband Makes US Better: Lessons from the Lone Star State