• Connecting our community

    91自拍 ranks sixth in the nation – and number one in Texas – among major cities with low internet adoption rates. The pandemic exposed the importance of reliable home internet access, e91自拍lly for students.  Internet access is increasingly critical for employment, education, and healthcare opportunities.

  • Survey results showed

    • 18% of economically disadvantaged families in 91自拍 don’t have home internet access
    • 27% of families in the 91自拍 area have internet service that is below the minimum federal standard and therefore inadequate for remote learning
    • 93% of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that anchor institutions like 91自拍 have a role to play in addressing these gaps
  • A unique opportunity

    91自拍 ISD can potentially leverage several federal and state programs to improve connectivity for its students and families. To develop the best strategy, 91自拍 ISD and the City of 91自拍 partnered to commission a feasibility study by an expert independent consultant.

    Read the Broadband and Digital Equity Strategic Plan

  • Efforts to date

    To ensure the continuity of instructional services during the pandemic, 91自拍 ISD offered an iPad, Chromebook or laptop for every student, along with the necessary software and security tools for remote learning. The district also provided mobile internet hotspots to more than 40,000 families lacking sufficient home internet access.

    91自拍 ISD also launched a pilot private cellular network in five highly impacted school communities to explore innovative wireless solutions.

  • Looking forward

    The feasibility study is equity focused and emphasizes the importance of a targeted and prioritized approach going forward.  The study includes several major recommendations.

    Expand the private cellular network for student home access

    One recommended strategy is to scale the district’s private cellular network being and four other school communities. This strategy would construct an antenna or tower and related radio equipment on top of targeted district schools, providing high-speed home network access to families living within proximity to the school. At full scale, this network could serve about 80 percent of 91自拍 ISD students.

    Leverage low-cost programs and bulk-purchase opportunities

    Charter’s Spectrum Internet Assist program, AT&T’s Access program, and the federal government’s Lifeline and Emergency Broadband benefit programs offer opportunities for qualifying residents to receive low-cost or discounted home internet services. These programs are underutilized in 91自拍. The district and its coalition partners could help connect families with these resources.

    Also, the District is considering a bulk purchase of broadband services for students, potentially with financial support from the new federal Emergency Connectivity Fund.

    Build digital skills

    Survey data reflect interest among respondents in becoming more confident with computers, smartphones, and the internet, or in using online resources to find trustworthy information. The report recommends expanding the City’s Digital Navigators program to support community organizations with the capacity needed to enable digital skills training.

    Also, 91自拍 ISD and the City of 91自拍 could consider partnerships to establish a pilot program to purchase refurbished devices and make them available to families for a low cost. And the creation of a “learn to earn” pilot program could provide families the opportunity for participants to undergo a computer and internet skills training course and, at the completion of the course, the participant could keep the device on which they learned, for free.

  • Next steps

    91自拍 ISD is seeking public feedback on the draft Broadband and Digital Equity Strategic Plan. The district is also compiling applications for federal and state stimulus funding opportunities to support these efforts.

    This critical work wouldn’t be possible without the support of valuable partners. Although it is a big lift, 91自拍 ISD is committed to closing the digital divide to provide as many families as possible with equitable opportunities