Increasing Broadband Adoption in Brownsville, TX
A reliable, high-speed internet connection is critical for nearly every part of our daily lives—from working and learning remotely to accessing tele health services and connecting with loved ones. Now more than ever, broadband connectivity, as well as access to the technology and skills needed to use it, is important to succeed in today’s hyper-connected world.
Charter, under our brand name Spectrum, is committed to helping residents in communities like Brownsville develop the skills to access our technology to take advantage of the life-changing benefits that connectivity has to offer.
Over the last three years, Charter has invested more than $20 billion in our infrastructure and technology to expand the reach of our state-of-the-art network and deliver fast, reliable broadband to more people in more places. The hard work and investments in our network continue to pay off for our customers. According to yearly reports released by the FCC, + Spectrum Internet from Charter continually ranks as one of the fastest and most consistent in terms of download broadband speeds.
Currently 99.5%* of Brownsville residents have access to broadband and Spectrum has additional broadband deployments continuing through 2021. In Brownsville, Spectrum offers Spectrum Internet Gig, which delivers a gigabit connection, with download speeds up to 940 megabits per second.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, over 20% of the residents of Brownsville are without a computer and almost half do not have an internet subscription. Research into low rates of broadband adoption found that a key contributing factor is the perception that the service is irrelevant and not a worthwhile investment. In Brownsville, the digital divide will not be bridged with more access to broadband service—through a government-funded network—because the City’s residents already have the most advanced broadband technology available to them. To address the issue in Brownsville, the solution lies with programs to facilitate adoption.
Programs like Charter’s Spectrum Internet Assist, which provides low-cost broadband service to qualified households, and Spectrum Digital Education, which helps bridge the gap in digital literacy, are important tools that will increase broadband adoption during a time when connectivity matters more than ever. These programs are important in Brownsville, which has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, with 35.7% of its population below the federal poverty line. To increase broadband adoption, Charter has worked with local officials and organizations to build awareness about the importance of connectivity, provide information on low-income broadband options, and promote digital literacy among residents.
Charter’s efforts were recently on display at a virtual event with the Brownsville Housing Authority, when we awarded a $25,000 Spectrum Digital Education grant for the Brownsville Housing Authority’s Buena Vida Choice EnVision BiblioTech program. This program will virtually connect low-income families with various programs and services offered through the Brownsville Public Library and will also provide various technology opportunities, computers, and other connectivity devices.
Joining Charter at this event were Congressman Filemon Vela, State Representative Ed Lucio III, Brownsville City Manager Noel Bernal, and Brownsville City Commissioner Dr. Rose Gowan. Each spoke about the importance of connectivity and the ongoing effort to get Brownsville residents online.
Brownsville cannot solve its broadband adoption challenges by wasting taxpayer money to build a government network. Government networks have a long history of failure in cities around the country and Brownsville should not become the next experiment that puts pressure on lawmakers to find funding and leaves taxpayers vulnerable. In order to meaningfully address the digital divide in Brownsville, increased education around the opportunities that broadband provides, and partnering with providers to address gaps in affordability and digital literacy is critical.
Watch the full event below:
+FCC’s Tenth Measuring Broadband America Fixed Broadband Report
*FCC’s 2020 Broadband Deployment Report, Appendix 1