From the City of Austin's Office of Telecommunications & Regulatory Affairs' newsletter:
The Housing Authority of the City of Austin and Head of Strategic Initiatives Catherine Crago hosted a reception for Paloma Perez on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at the Henry Flores Education and Training Center in the Meadowbrook apartment complex. Paloma is an Austin native and the press secretary for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and FCC spokesperson.
After a morning spent touring the Austin Free-Net digital labs, Austin’s public access TV station and both North Loop and Lakeside HACA-run apartments to see their digital infrastructure, Paloma joined HACA, City and Travis County representatives and Digital Empowerment Community of Austin members for a round-table discussion.
Paloma was able to give the group an insider’s look at the FCC’s work around digital inclusion and the latest on the brand-new FCC broadband "fabric" maps, the Affordable Connectivity Program and outreach grants. She shared how personal this issue was to her as someone who grew up in Dripping Springs without a home internet connection. She had to submit her college applications from an open internet connection in town so she knows the direct impact of not having a high-speed internet connection at home.
With the help of funding from last year’s Infrastructure Act, the FCC is empowering consumers with tools never available before. There’s the ACP that provides a discount for low-income households to get home internet service, significant grants programs for additional outreach and now the ability to see exactly where high-speed internet service is available and where the holes are. Paloma said that it’s important for everyone to ensure that the service available at their home and business address is correct. The mapping information comes straight from the internet service providers. The details need to be verified since it’s never been done before at the address level. If it’s not correct, it can be challenged. The FCC expects the map will be refined and honed with everyone’s help.