Harris County Rolling Out Broadband Access to Bridge the Digital Divide for Families in Need
Harris County, the most populous county in Texas and third most populous in the country, is turning to Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS)-based private broadband to connect families in need to secure reliable internet for learning, telehealth and access to professional opportunities. The initial deployment of five sites supports connectivity for about 1,000 households, and an additional 26 fixed and mobile sites will be deployed by the end of this year with the capability of supporting over 6,000 households.
“Internet access has become vital during this global pandemic. It has provided connectivity for our children’s educational needs and other support demands, such as access to healthcare and labor connectivity,” said Major General Rick Noriega (Ret), executive director and chief information officer, Harris County Universal Services. “Harris County is committed to a long-term, sustainable solution that will bridge the digital divide in our communities. We are looking toward the future.”
Motorola Solutions was selected as the private LTE vendor because its Nitro solution is quickly and easily deployed, secure and highly reliable. It can be scaled immediately or over time as the needs of a community change. Popular with schools, it provides the capacity to support online lessons, streaming video and other data-rich programming. Harris County has been working with local school districts and community groups to spread awareness of the network and notify families in coverage areas that modems for connectivity are available for free and anonymously through local libraries.
“The pandemic and resulting need for remote and hybrid learning models highlighted the inequities that exist within our communities when it comes to reliable internet access,” said Dominic Tong, executive director of technology infrastructure and engineering, Aldine Independent School District. “However, these inequities existed long before. All of our students need at-home internet for research, homework and college applications, and we’re grateful for the county’s investment in private broadband, which will provide our students with the connectivity needed to support academic success.”