An effort to improve high-speed Internet connections throughout Wharton County officially launches tonight.

It’s going to take you, however, and the rest of the general public’s help for the newly-formed Wharton County Broadband Committee, working with Connected Nation Texas, to develop a county-wide Technology Action Plan.

“We need everyone’s input so that we have the best possible data to work with in developing a Technology Action Plan,” said Carolyn Gibson, executive director of the City Development Corporation of El Campo “Developing this plan is a critical step to improving high-speed Internet access for everyone in Wharton County. It means we can better identify areas of need as well as potential challenges and opportunities across the county. We can’t make a strong plan unless we include as many families, businesses, and other organizations as possible.”

The committee needs residents, businesses, and other organizations to share their input about their broadband access or lack thereof. To do so, head to https://www.myconnectedcommunity.org/wharton-county/ and select the appropriate option for you. There are nine options to choose from ranging from residential to higher education to government. 

Wharton County is the second county taking part in a statewide effort launched in mid-2019 and led by CN Texas to improve broadband access, adoption and use.

According to data released in May by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 31.1 percent of rural Texans lack access to high-speed Internet. That’s compared to just 2.6 percent in urban areas. 

“Having reliable, affordable Internet impacts everything from our kids to our local businesses,” said Chad Odom, executive director of the Wharton Economic Development Corporation. “Students need access just to complete their schoolwork. The Internet connects senior citizens to doctors and their families, even when they can’t travel; it gives local businesses and agriculture access to a global market; and it can provide access to job opportunities, including work-at-home possibilities, for young adults and parents.”

Recognizing the need to expand access in the Lone Star State the Texas Rural Funders Collaborative has funded CN Texas’ work for two-and-half-years—that includes funding for 23 Connected Community Engagements. 

“We are now working to identify 23 communities,” State Program Director Jennifer Harris said. “Our staff works with local leaders, businesses, providers and others to identify ways to connect everyone ... We’re excited that Wharton County leaders also see the value and importance of developing this plan. Too much is at stake for our Texas communities to stand by and do nothing.”

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