To foster economic growth in a city with high levels of unemployment, the City of Brownsville’s Connect Brownsville project proposes to increase public computer access and awareness of the benefits of broadband among residents over the next three years. The project proposes to bolster the town library’s broadband speeds and provide 176 new computers to the library and to deploy a mobile lab in collaboration with Texas Southmost College to make available another 30 laptop computers for residents. The project also expects to deploy five new workstations to the United Way of Southern Cameron County, a key community development organization in the city, and allow community members to benefit from services such as basic math and reading, GED preparation, computer skills training, and English-as-a-second-language classes through the Brownsville Literacy Center.
The City of El Paso, Texas and the surrounding area faces significant challenges because of its poverty level, sparse geographic distribution, and limited access to tools necessary for economic development. Among those tools are computer access, broadband connectivity, and other advances in technology necessary to improve education, job training, and health. A 2009 Digital El Paso survey showed that only 35 percent of El Paso-area households have high-speed Internet access, compared to over 60 percent of households nationwide. The city’s Virtual Village project addresses these concerns through an extensive overhaul and expansion of its public computing capacity. The project will engage hundreds of agencies, community institutions, and local organizations to target vulnerable populations, particularly at-risk youth, the elderly, the unemployed, and minorities, with training in and access to computer technology.
Broadband’s ability to expand educational and employment opportunities is especially meaningful for Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing, a community that faces unique challenges in education and that suffers from a rate of unemployment much higher than the national average. Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. (CSD) intends to expand broadband adoption among people who are deaf and hard of hearing and provide them with online tools to more fully participate in the digital economy. The project proposes to employ a combination of discounted broadband service and specialized computers, technology training from an online state-of-the art support center customized to the community’s needs, public access to videophones at anchor institutions from coast to coast, and a nationwide outreach initiative. Thousands will gain online access to all the Internet has to offer, including sign language interpreters, captioned video services, and other content and functionalities designed especially to advance their educational, employment, and healthcare interests.
State Capacity Building:
At the direction of the state, this project will leverage the work of the established Texas Broadband Task Force; seek input from experts from governmental agencies, nonprofits and trade associations; and assess current programs and laws/regulations that can be used to overcome impediments to broadband growth and adoption.
This project will conduct local research in the second year of the program and state research in the fourth year, both regarding the barriers to broadband availability and adoption. Connected Texas will work with a university in the state to peer review the results and conclusions from this research before presenting it publicly.
Local Regional Technology Planning Teams:
In coordination with the TDA State Broadband Coordinator and the Texas Broadband Task Force, Connected Texas will work with the Texas Councils of Governments (COGs) and establish approximately 29 planning teams at a regional or local level. The 24 COGs and local officials for the additional five planning teams will assist in selecting the regional champion. Each COG’s team will conduct regular meetings throughout the first two years of the project to establish benchmarks, goals, and a strategic plan. Both planning teams and the Texas Broadband Task Force will participate in annual statewide strategic planning meetings to share best practices and identify and resolve any new barriers or challenges.
Data Collection, Integration, and Validation:
This project was originally funded for broadband planning activities and two years of data collection. In September of 2010, this project was amended to extend data collection activities for an additional three years and to identify and implement best practices.
The AccessAmerica Video Remote Interpreting project plans to install 81 new videoconferencing stations, and enhance the user experience at 19 existing stations that serve individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing in Northwest Louisiana, and sites in Alabama, California, and Texas. The project intends to use broadband and videoconference technology to provide on-demand, cost-effective sign language interpretation at a total of 100 community partner sites, including community anchor institutions such as hospitals, courts, public safety agencies, shelters, schools, and libraries. Each state-of-the-art video conferencing unit is expected to connect to trained American Sign Language interpreters working at a central call center or otherwise remotely.
The ENMR-Plateau Middle Mile project intends to enhance broadband capabilities for critical community anchor institutions in eastern New Mexico and west Texas by lighting a more than 1,600-mile ring of fiber and constructing 74 miles of new fiber in five communities. The project plans to connect more than 200 anchor institutions – including educational institutions, public safety organizations, healthcare facilities, and government agencies – at speeds of up to 1 Gbps. In addition, the network intends to offer wholesale services and facilitate broadband expansion to an estimated 20 communities and an area with nearly 700,000 homes, over 36,000 businesses, and 263 anchor institutions.
To provide much-needed broadband capacity to critical community facilities in underserved west Texas and eastern New Mexico communities, ENMR-Plateau plans to construct 189 miles of new fiber and utilize 418 miles of additional existing fiber to create a middle mile broadband network spanning central and eastern New Mexico and parts of western Texas.
Expanding its $11.2M BTOP Round One infrastructure award, ENMR plans to deploy its network into additional underserved areas with 1 Gbps middle-mile speeds. The project proposes to facilitate distance learning and education for tens of thousands of residents by significantly improving broadband connections at schools and higher education institutions. ENMR-Plateau plans to partner with both New Mexico and Texas colleges and universities, regional utility companies, and other service providers as needed to further maximize use of fiber and broadband capacity.
The Expanding Broadband Access Across Texas project proposes to build 17 new access points on Level 3’s existing broadband network to enable last mile providers to offer affordable high-speed services to underserved areas. The additional points of interconnection will offer broadband speeds between 50 Mbps and 10 Gbps on an open and nondiscriminatory basis to last mile Internet service providers. Similar to on-ramps to the interstate highway system, these points of interconnection enable last mile providers to transport data to the Internet backbone and provide affordable service to anchor institutions, homes, and businesses. The project could enhance broadband capabilities for as many as 400,000 households, 21,000 businesses, and 214 community anchor institutions, including schools, government agencies, and healthcare providers.
According to studies, only approximately 20 percent of primarily Spanish-speaking residents subscribe to broadband services in the home. To engage the Hispanic and English-as-a-Second-Language populations, as well as improve adoption rates in the Greater Houston, Beaumont, and San Antonio areas, the Mexican Institute of Greater Houston proposes to create a broadband outreach and training program targeting Hispanic and minority communities. The project plans to utilize its network of over 100 existing community centers, many located at K-12 public schools in the region, to conduct technology training sessions in Spanish for students and their families.
The Mission Economic Development Agency, in collaboration with the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders and a national network of Latino-serving economic development organizations, plans to create 12 new public computer centers and expand five existing ones in 13 communities throughout the United States. Each center expects to operate on the project’s centrally managed network and provide computer training and adult education to a low broadband adoption, high unemployment target population through a standardized English-Spanish training curriculum. The project expects to add a total of 263 new workstations and replace 37 existing workstations, enabling the centers to serve an additional 2,500 users per week and train an estimated 3,000 users per year. Broadband capabilities at each center will be increased to speeds of 1.5 Mbps. Public computer centers funded through this grant will be located in Phoenix, AZ; Canoga Park, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, CA; Del Norte, CO; Blackfoot, ID; Wheaton, MD; Minneapolis, MN; Kansas City, MO; Anthony, NM; Philadelphia, PA; and San Antonio and Laredo, TX.
The 21st Century Information and Support Ecosystem project proposes to implement a comprehensive program of computer training, wireless Internet access, broadband awareness marketing, and online content and applications to residents of 159 affordable and public housing developments and low-income communities in 50 cities and towns across 31 states and the District of Columbia. The project plans to implement four principal programs: training 2,500 youth to become “Digital Connectors” who will then provide digital literacy training to others in their communities; deploying localized broadband networks in public housing developments; developing online content and applications aimed at low-income, low-literacy audiences.
The East Texas Medical and Educational Fiber Optic Network, proposed by Peoples Telephone Cooperative,
plans to deploy broadband service to educational, healthcare, and government organizations across an
economically distressed 13-county area in eastern Texas. The project plans to connect community anchor
institutions, especially hospitals, in Camp, Delta, Fannin, Franklin, Hopkins, Hunt, Lamar, Rains, Red River,
Smith, Titus, Van Zandt, and Wood Counties to one another and to the University of Texas Health Science
Center at Tyler, which serves as the region’s hub for medical care and education.
Partnering with adult literacy and basic education organizations with long histories in their respective states, Portland State University proposes to lead the Learner Web Partnership project to increase broadband use among low-income, minorities, and other vulnerable populations by teaching digital literacy along with English literacy, educating participants to become informed consumers, and providing access to career paths in the digital economy. Project partners will deploy the existing Learner Web software, which has been cited by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education as a noteworthy adult education program, for more than 20,000 residents. Instructional materials will address topics including use of broadband for job searches, education and health information, and smart consumer practices. The project proposes a distinctive focus on the needs of adult learners using an approach that combines self-paced learning with live tutorial support.
Community-serving institutions in a 19-county region of southwestTexas often face insufficient broadband connectivity and access speeds, making it difficult to provide critical educational, economic, and medical services. Region 18 Education Service Center’s Connect Southwest Texas project proposes to deploy new, high-speed middle-mile infrastructure across the area as part of a public-private collaboration with five regional broadband service providers. The project also aims to deploy or improve videoconferencing capabilities at local K-12 and higher-education institutions and work with the Texas Department of Public Safety to link its locations in Midland, Alpine, and Fort Stockton to the new network.
With more than a dozen years of experience providing social services via technology to low-income and non-English-speaking residents, Technology for All proposes a significant enhancement of its public computer centers across Texas. The project plans to provide computer access, technical support, digital literacy, workforce development, and other services to low-income and vulnerable populations via more than 60 centers across southwest Texas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Duval County, and small rural communities in the Texas Brazos Valley. Centers will be located in both urban and rural areas of Texas at libraries, workforce development centers, public housing facilities, and other community locations. The applicant hopes to use this project to lay the groundwork for a future statewide broadband access program.
To bring state-of-the-art communications capacities to underserved schools and other community-serving institutions across Texas, the Texas A&M University System is proposing to deploy a fiber optic broadband network to provide 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps service to almost 50 community anchor institutions. The project plans to extend service to 13 campuses and the surrounding communities in Corpus Christi, Kingsville, College Station/Bryan, Waco, Canyon, Prairie View, Laredo, Texarkana, Commerce, Galveston, Stephenville, San Antonio, and Killeen. These areas encompass four predominantly Hispanic communities, the Historically Black College of Prairie View A&M, and the area immediately adjacent to Fort Hood, the largest U.S. Army post in the country. The project predicts that the network will serve 114,000 students and 27,000 faculty and staff, as well as connect the university police departments to the State of Texas Department of Public Safety to enhance security and safety and help advance Texas’s Next Generation 911 network.
To improve broadband access, encourage lifelong learning, provide workforce development, and support vulnerable populations in underserved regions of the state, the Texas State Library & Archives Commission intends to deploy the Technology Expertise, Access, and Learning for all Texans (TEAL) project, adding and upgrading public computer centers at libraries, community colleges, public schools, recreation centers, and health facilities across the state. TEAL plans to target youth groups, senior citizens, and English as a Second Language (ESL) residents in an area where more than 31 percent of persons speak a language other than English at home. TEAL proposes to facilitate statewide training for libraries on making existing software and computer centers more accessible to people with disabilities, as well as the unemployed, by providing staff to assist with finding and applying for jobs, maintaining contact with employers, training to find better jobs and other basic aspects of employment.
As part of a longstanding project to connect essential community anchor institutions across the country, and facilitate closer collaboration and long-term benefits for education, research, healthcare, public safety, and government services, the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID) proposes a comprehensive 50-state network benefitting approximately 121,000 community anchors. The project proposes a large-scale, public-private partnership to interconnect more than 30 existing research and education networks, creating a dedicated 100-200 Gbps nationwide fiber backbone with 3.2 terabits per second (TBps) total capacity that would enable advanced networking features such as IPv6 and video multicasting. The project plans to connect community anchors across all disciplines into virtual communities with shared goals and objectives, including colleges, universities, libraries, major veterans and other health care facilities, and public safety entities, with additional benefits to tribes, vulnerable populations, and government entities.
The Rio Grande Valley Fiber Optic Network is a public-private partnership that proposes to deploy a new 166-mile fiber network to help transform a region of southern Texas with chronically high unemployment, persistent poverty areas, and a large percentage of disadvantaged and minority populations. Valley Telephone Cooperative’s VTX Communications proposes to improve existing service and increase dark fiber resources available to local anchor institutions. With day-to-day network management conducted by VTX, users plan to connect to one another, the public Internet, and to state and national research and education networks such as LEARN, Internet2, and National Lambda Rail. The project plans to connect 23 anchor institutions affiliated with the higher education community, significantly improving instruction, research, and health services in the region.