Staying connected is important. Having the infrastructure to do so is critical.
The Importance of Rural Broadband
Equitable participation for rural communities – from education and healthcare to applying for jobs or operating a business – requires quality broadband access. In 2018, Texas Rural Funders engaged Connected Nation Texas to conduct listening tours in rural communities statewide and publish Rural Broadband: A Texas Tour.
We heard challenges, but we also knew that there was an opportunity to help get rural communities and regions connected. So we funded over 50 Texas communities in developing Community Technology Action Plans.
Texas Broadband Development Office
During the 87th Legislative Session, our state established the Texas Broadband Development Office, which is charged with establishing a statewide broadband plan, awarding grants, and engaging communities.
Defining Broadband Access
The three major components of broadband are access, adoption, and use. Some communities have no broadband at all. Others have broadband in one central area, but it’s not reliable or affordable or residents don’t have computers. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance1 defines broadband adoption as daily access to the internet
- at speeds, quality and capacity necessary to accomplish common tasks,
- with the digital skills necessary to fully participate online, and
- on a personal device and secure convenient network
1National Digital Inclusion Alliance. Definitions.https://www.digitalinclusion.org/definitions/
Reach out to the providers that serve your area. Depending on where you live, this may include small broadband providers, electric and telephone co-operatives, and/or large providers.
Digital Inclusion and Navigation
Digital Inclusion means ensuring that everyone can access and use the internet. Because we have not yet achieved this, there are many organizations working to provide access. Some organizations work across the entire population while others focus on the needs of specific groups including: students and families, older adults, and/or low-income populations.
Digital Navigators are volunteers or paid staff trained to help others gain access to internet and learn how to use devices to meet their needs. Many local, state, and national organizations are supporting this work, including the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.