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Posted on: September 7, 2021

City Corner Column: Broadband improvement study brings us one step closer to better internet

Assistant City Manager Darrek Ferrell

What should the future of internet access look like in Victoria?

A total of 948 people shared their answers to this question by responding to the City of Victoria Broadband Commission and CobbFendley’s broadband improvement survey. This detailed survey encouraged respondents to provide specific information about how they use the internet and which areas they’d like to see improve.

From the survey results, CobbFendley crafted a broadband improvement study that analyzes problems and solutions related to broadband access in Victoria. The full document will be available at www.victoriatx.gov/broadband

We’d like to give a big thank you to everyone who helped to contribute to this study. This detailed data will be a big help in the Victoria Broadband Commission’s continued mission to attract internet providers. It isn’t enough simply to know that residents are unhappy with their internet service; we need to understand the reasons for residents’ dissatisfaction and develop solutions aimed at the bigger issues.

The numbers tell an eye-opening story about our community and our internet access. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Loving the small-town life: When asked what they liked most about Victoria, nearly a quarter of respondents stated that they love the city’s small-town lifestyle. It’s no secret that our residents enjoy Victoria’s special blend of small-town living and big-city amenities. However, our lower population density puts us at a disadvantage when we try to attract internet providers, who prefer to set up shop in big metros with higher population density. To improve market competition and consumer choice, the Victoria Broadband Commission must actively work to attract providers and infrastructure developers.
  • Economic growth goals: Along with quality of life and cost of living, most respondents cited economic growth as an area that they’d like to see improve with the addition of a broadband network. Internet access is an important part of attracting businesses because the internet is necessary for modern commerce. Think of it like a utility: while businesses used to be concerned only about having access to electricity and water lines, they now need to make sure they can get online. Victoria already enjoys great access to transportation by rail, port, air and highways; having high-quality internet on top of these amenities will put us in an excellent position to attract businesses.
  • Reliable, available and affordable: As part of the survey, respondents were asked to rate different factors related to internet connectivity. Most respondents rated provider options and pricing as poor or very poor; other factors that received mostly negative responses were availability/coverage, reliability and speed. The stated goal of the Victoria Broadband Commission has always been to bring more reliable, available and affordable internet to Victoria, and this survey confirms that our goals are in line with residents’ needs. 

Be on the lookout for updates about the Victoria Broadband Commission’s partnership with Sparklight and other opportunities that we are pursuing. The broadband improvement study has helped us to understand what residents want; now it’s time to make that vision a reality.

Darrek Ferrell is an assistant city manager for the City of Victoria.

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