This is a third-party news release from Harris County, Texas
Private LTE network from Motorola Solutions provides foundation for sustainable and scalable connectivity
Harris County, Texas - October 7, 2021 -
Harris County, the most populous county in Texas and third most populous in the country, is turning to Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS)-based private broadband to connect families in need to secure reliable internet for learning, telehealth and access to professional opportunities. The initial deployment of five sites supports connectivity for about 1,000 households, and an additional 26 fixed and mobile sites will be deployed by the end of this year with the capability of supporting over 6,000 households.
"Internet access has become vital during this global pandemic. It has provided connectivity for our children's educational needs and other support demands, such as access to healthcare and labor connectivity," said Major General Rick Noriega (Ret), executive director and chief information officer, Harris County Universal Services. "Harris County is committed to a long-term, sustainable solution that will bridge the digital divide in our communities. We are looking toward the future."
Motorola Solutions was selected as the private LTE vendor because its Nitro solution is quickly and easily deployed, secure and highly reliable. It can be scaled immediately or over time as the needs of a community change. Popular with schools, it provides the capacity to support online lessons, streaming video and other data-rich programming. Harris County has been working with local school districts and community groups to spread awareness of the network and notify families in coverage areas that modems for connectivity are available for free and anonymously through local libraries.
"The pandemic and resulting need for remote and hybrid learning models highlighted the inequities that exist within our communities when it comes to reliable internet access," said Dominic Tong, executive director of technology infrastructure and engineering, Aldine Independent School District. "However, these inequities existed long before. All of our students need at-home internet for research, homework and college applications, and we're grateful for the county's investment in private broadband, which will provide our students with the connectivity needed to support academic success."
As the footprint for the network expands, Harris County will be working with additional community organizations to communicate the availability and benefit of the network to all citizens without regular access to internet. The county is creating a digital taskforce that will connect senior citizens and others to resources and adult digital literacy programs that will help them access and take advantage of online doctor visits, banking, community services and job opportunities. It is also looking ahead to when the network backhaul will support enhancements to the county's service and public safety operations.
"Our initial focus has been on connecting students and families, but we also have an eye to what will be possible in the future with a foundation of strong, private broadband supporting our county operations," said Jim McMillan, senior director of public safety technology, Harris County Universal Services. "The backhaul that Motorola Solutions is providing will allow us to capture and harness data from meters, sensors and cameras across the city to improve the delivery of county services and inform the work of our public safety agencies."
"I am proud of the commitment Harris County is making to residents who know the consequences of the digital divide firsthand," said Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia. "Having access to a free private broadband network for learning, healthcare, access to job opportunities, and so much more will make a huge difference in people's lives. Commissioner's Court is committed to innovative solutions, and this new program gives us a flexible platform on which to build and expand the services we provide to people who need it most."
About Harris County Universal Services
Harris County Universal Services is the solutions center for the departments and offices of Harris County. It designs, implements and maintains high-quality, innovative and cost-effective technology products and services for its customers. It provides comprehensive support through eight consumer divisions: Business Applications, Business Operations, Customer Service, Cybersecurity, Fleet Services, Information Technology Infrastructure, Program Delivery & Analytics and Public Safety Technology. To learn more, visit US.HarrisCountyTX.gov
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