Brownsville City Commissioners and Mayor Trey Mendez approved $19.5 million from the American Rescue Plan funds for broadband development which will help eliminate the digital divide in Brownsville, the city announced in a press release.
The release states the funding will allow for the implementation of a Middle Mile Broadband Network for installation of 95 miles of underground fiber to meet high-speed internet connectivity needs and demands.
“Coming in as mayor, Brownsville was ranked as one of the least connected communities in the USA,” Mendez said on a Facebook post.
“Right at the top of my list of priorities was crossing our name off that list. I am proud to say that we are on our way with the recent commitment of $19.5 million in ARP monies to fund a citywide middle mile fiber network.”
Mendez said this will not only make broadband much more affordable, but the network will be faster and more reliable. Having this fiber throughout the city makes us much more attractive for companies and individuals seeking to relocate to our area and helps existing industry like hospitals and schools/universities, he said.
According to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), Brownsville is one of the worst connected cities in the country with the poorest access to fixed broadband. The current Covid-19 Pandemic brought to the forefront the need to improve connectivity in the interest of enhancing economic development and improve the quality of life for the City of Brownsville, the press release states.
“Through City leadership, this citywide initiative will expand broadband service to help improve internet accessibility, connectivity, and usage, for the entire Brownsville community by working in partnership with the Brownsville Public Utilities Board (BPUB) infrastructure, and anchor institutions. The issue was studied through the Broadband Feasibility and Digital Inclusion Plan, which reinforced the broadband disparity,” the press release reads.
The release also states that through the (ARP), the City of Brownsville received $65 million to support various citywide initiatives. The ARP is a federally funded program that assists state and local governments to address four primary functions:
• Responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic
• Supporting essential workers
• Recovering revenue loss for government services
• Investing in infrastructure for water, sewage, drainage, and broadband services