Teamwork

A Texas broadband coalition aims to establish a smart region in the northern part of the state. Goals include bringing broadband to more households and improving digital inclusivity in the region.

The North Texas Innovation Alliance (NXTIA), a 501(c)3 regional consortium of over 40 municipalities, agencies, corporations and academic institutions across North Texas, is partnering with the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) on the initiative, to be known as the Internet for North Texas Coalition (14NTX).

It’s essentially the relaunch of a coalition originally launched in 2020, when it established Operation Connectivity. That initiative illustrated disparities in broadband access at the school district and neighborhood level, and set a goal of connecting every K-16 student to high-speed broadband at home.

Members of the Texas Governor’s Broadband Council also will help spearhead the 14NTX initiative.

“The I4NTX Coalition aims to revive the intent of Operation Connectivity and work with cross-sector teams to bring broadband access to more households throughout North Texas, leveraging the established coalition built by the NTXIA,” said Jennifer Sanders, executive director of NTXIA, in a prepared statement.

“We are honored to lead this effort and continue to grow the momentum in creating a digitally equitable future. With the support and guidance of our public sector partners, and subject matter expertise from the private sector, we are setting a strong foundation for sustainable digital growth and accessibility in the region.”

NCTOG has an innovative “broadband as transportation” program that “recognizes internet access as a crucial transportation mode and establishes a robust framework for promoting widespread digital inclusivity across the North Texas region,” said Connor Sadro of NCTCOG in a prepared statement.

The NCTOG program was recently approved by the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) for North Texas.

“By declaring broadband a mode of transportation, we are not just expanding infrastructure; we are enhancing educational outcomes, economic opportunities, access to healthcare and quality of life improvements for residents impacted most by the digital divide,” said Sadro.

The I4NTX coalition will “engage public and academic entities across the region to address key elements and challenges of broadband efforts, including data, policy, infrastructure and equitable access,” according to a press release.

The coalition will also lead a subcommittee of 20-30 public sector practitioners that will advise elected officials from the RTC, with the goal of forming a legislative program to address regional digital needs. It will also encourage local municipalities to share best practices for achieving universal broadband access.

“I4NTX is a visionary step towards transforming how we understand and implement infrastructure for widespread connectivity,” said Matt Yeager, a digital equity and connectivity advocate and member of the Texas Governor’s Broadband Development Council. “Broadband is as crucial as roads and bridges in today’s world and ensuring that every resident has broadband access is fundamental to our region’s growth and prosperity.”

One of NXTIA’s partners is Peachtree Corners, which also has been involved with T-Mobile on technology initiatives. Other partners include Cisco, Accenture and Verizon.

Joan Engebretson contributed to this report

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