Foundation running Central Texas broadband survey to help increase access

Published: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:07 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 10:20 AM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - Expanding broadband access is part of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill, and here in Central Texas, the 14 Forward Foundation is working on the same goal.

The foundation is partnering with Bell, Coryell and Lampasas counties to ask businesses in those areas to fill out a survey about their internet access.

Jennifer Hetzel, director of research for the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, said once people fill out the survey, the foundation will have an idea of if, and where, the gaps in service area.

The data will also help identify if there are any locations where speed needs to increase. The 14 Forward Foundation has several goals for the Killeen area, and one of them is improving the infrastructure.

Hetzel said broadband access falls into that category. She said if the group is able to get a good idea of what coverage is like, it could be an economic development tool to help recruit businesses.

“Internet is important to a lot of businesses we talk to, especially now that we are working on starting a research park at Texas A&M Central Texas and an innovation district that supports that park,” Hetzel said.

“We have had a couple who have looked at our area and either said ‘oh well you know, you don’t have what we need’ or ‘talk to us when you do get faster, more reliable internet.’”

Hetzel said expanding broadband access was a priority even before the pandemic, but everyone working and learning from home highlighted how the internet has become a necessity.

“Just like we have water and electric provided to us, broadband is going to be one of those things that we just expect from our communities,” Hetzel said.

Hetzel said the group plans to leave the survey open for at least another month or two in order to collect as much data as possible. She said they’ll be able to use the data to speak with internet providers about expanding the service area.

Businesses in the three counties can find a link to the survey online. Hetzel said it’s best to fill out the survey on a desktop or laptop connected to the internet your business uses on a daily basis.

The 14 Forward Foundation is a group of about 40 private investors and local businesses who are working to bring more economic growth to Killeen and the surrounding areas. The group has several goals: growing business and investment in the community, promoting Fort Hood and strengthening infrastructure.

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