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Broadband Internet testing gets under way

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Special to the LPR

Texas Rural Funders, St. David’s Foundation, and Connected Nation Texas last week in Lockhart kicked off Caldwell County broadband infrastructure mapping and broadband speed testing.
Participants in last week’s kick-off event learned about the overstatement of broadband coverage associated with the Federal Communications Commission’s Form 477 maps and data, why Connected Nation (CN) uses a different methodology than the federal government, how the broadband data is validated or verified, the tools used to analyze broadband, how speed tests can be misleading and why robust connectivity is so important, especially for rural communities. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made the expansion of broadband access an emergency item for the Texas Legislature, making this effort even more timely and relevant.
Residents of Caldwell County are encouraged to take their community broadband survey here: https://myconnectedcommunity.org/caldwell-county/.
“Texas Rural Funders is pleased to support Connected Nation’s work here in Texas, and we’re grateful for St. David’s Foundation’s support of this Caldwell County project. TRF is working to educate Texans about the importance of a statewide broadband plan and ensuring Texas’ rural and underserved communities finally can experience the benefits of broadband access in their work, schools, healthcare, homes, and families,” said Dr. Kelty Garbee, Executive Director of Texas Rural Funders.
“We are proud to support these efforts in Caldwell County to better understand broadband infrastructure including barriers and opportunities which are vital for communities to thrive,” said Abena Asante, MHA, Senior Program Officer at St. David’s Foundation. “Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the disparities rural and underserved communities experience when accessing reliable and affordable broadband for remote learning, work, leisure, and healthcare needs. We are committed to working alongside our communities to find innovative solutions and partnerships to ensure our neighbors can fully participate and thrive in an increasingly global society.”
“CN Texas’ field validation work will complement the ongoing multi-sector community broadband survey and will support the continued development of Caldwell County’s broadband landscape,” said Jennifer Harris, State Program Director for CN Texas.
CN Texas’ work in Caldwell County this week is an outside plant audit and field validation that will locate, identify, and document targeted wireline platforms such as digital subscriber line (DSL), hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC), fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), middle-mile fiber-optic transport lines, and fixed wireless transmit locations to assess the county’s broadband capabilities.
During field validation activities, CN Texas will also identify strategic vertical assets, such as water tanks, broadcast towers, rooftops, utility poles, and other facilities that could be leveraged for fixed wireless broadband expansion.
In addition to the community engagement work in Caldwell County, funded by the St. David’s Foundation, Texas Rural Funders has sponsored 27 similar projects around the state.
Connected Nation is a national nonprofit working to identify innovative solutions to expand access, adoption, and use of broadband (high-speed internet) and its related technologies.
Connected Nation Texas is the statewide program of that work.

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