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State broadband leaders connect with Burnet County residents

Texas Broadband Development Office meeting in Burnet

Dozens of Burnet County residents attended a meeting held by the Texas Broadband Development Office in Burnet on Friday morning. The office is in the process of creating a plan for bringing better digital connectivity to the state and sought feedback from locals on how to make that happen for Burnet County. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Texas Broadband Development Office sought feedback from Burnet County residents on the state of local internet access in its quest to determine how it will spend $3.3 billion to equalize broadband access across Texas. 

TBDO representatives gave a presentation on the Digital Opportunity Plan and heard from residents during an open meeting on Friday, July 21, at the Burnet Community Center. 

That meeting was No. 8 of 24 that the TBDO is holding across the state to collect on-the-ground feedback for its internet access plan, which should be completed by Dec. 1, 2023.

Dozens of Burnet County residents attended the meeting, voicing concerns about the affordability, reliability, and availability of broadband internet. 

“(Burnet County) is in a rather unique position because we’re immediately adjoining metropolitan areas in Williamson and Travis counties. We’re not way out in the middle of nowhere,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery. “But we’re still a very underserved community, and we’re asking (the state) to help us formulate a plan to do the infill projects that are needed.”

Earlier this year, the TBDO released a map of Texas depicting the level of internet service available in a given county. According to the map, Burnet County is only 2 percent “unserved” and 35 percent “underserved.” 

The TBDO uses the Federal Communications Commission’s definitions of unserved and underserved to determine the need for broadband in an area. Unserved means internet speeds are less than 25 Megabits-per-second for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. Underserved means between 25 and 100 Mbps download speeds and between 3 and 20 Mbps upload speeds. An area is considered “served” if it has access to 100 Mbps download speeds and 20 Mbps upload speeds or above.

Burnet County officials and the local broadband advocacy group Connected Burnet County have disputed the results of the TBDO mapping since the data was released, claiming that connectivity is far worse than depicted.

“We’re simply trying to bring together our community and our constituents in a common voice to the state to let them know that the maps they’ve put out are very incorrect,” Dockery said. “There are definitely unserved and underserved areas in Burnet County.” 

TBDO Director Greg Conte agreed with Dockery’s assessment but tried to put things into perspective.

“Burnet (County) has somewhere around 2 percent unserved and 35 percent underserved, but there are some counties that are 97 percent unserved,” he said. “There are certainly counties that are doing much worse than Burnet County when it comes to connectivity.”

He did note that the FCC’s definitions of internet connectivity did not take into account affordability and reliability, only the capability of connecting to the internet.

“The problem with rural areas is they have less population density,” Conte told “The less dense it is, the more expensive it is going to be. Living in a less dense area shouldn’t disqualify you at all. Those are the locations that we should be triaging. So we’re looking at how to establish policies and procedures to help close the digital divide.”

1 thought on “State broadband leaders connect with Burnet County residents

  1. It should be noted that the funding for this is part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, which every Texas Republican in congress voted against.

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