El Paso County
The Hunt Institute identified and assessed the gaps in broadband services throughout El Paso County in response to the global pandemic caused by COVID-19. This report provides a review of population demographics, education, and economic indicators, as well as an assessment of the potential regional impacts of broadband service amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in El Paso County. This study also estimates the savings from the increased demand for remote education, tele-health, and telework during COVID-19.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) data overstates El Paso’s broadband access. FCC estimates 96.8% of El Pasoans should be able to access broadband, when in reality only 56.7% of homes and 72.7% of businesses have access.
This report examines and researches El Paso County’s broadband accessibility, coverage, and expansion in collaboration with multiple entities working various aspects of the bigger picture of regional broadband status. The University of Texas at El Paso, through The Hunt Institute and The Mike Loya Center for Innovation and Commerce, have created an economic impact report, a feasibility benchmark cost analysis, and a model business plan.
Access to internet and broadband is unequal across the region. More than one in four households of the Central and Lower Valley regions do not have internet access. And households in the Central and Lower Valley regions are found to be the least familiar with common computer software.
This report assesses the current state of broadband access and infrastructure in El Paso County, determines current market conditions and willingness to pay for new services, and provides an economic impact study for a proposed broadband expansion program. To achieve these objectives, the Hunt Institute created and distributed surveys to households and businesses to collect data on current broadband access and availability, determine market share, and assess demand for expanded services that may be provided by the county. The report also presents an economic impact study on broadband expansion in El Paso County from 2022 to 2040.
The Hunt Institute’s economic impact study estimates that every $1 invested in El Paso’s broadband infrastructure adds $2 to the region’s economic output. The improved capability of the new network will foster business development and job growth in the county.
Doña Ana County
Efforts are underway in Doña Ana County to expand broadband access for all. They are currently conducting a study to better understand connectivity in the area.
The New Mexico Broadband Program (NMBBP) within the New Mexico Department of Information Technology (NM DoIT) contracted Bohannan Huston Inc. (BHI) and CommUNITY Learning Network (CLN) to work with Doña Ana Broadband, an informal community coalition, to develop and pilot the Doña Ana Broadband Connectivity Survey. Thanks to extensive community outreach efforts and the engagement of community outreach workers from the public health sector known as Promotoras, Doña Ana Broadband received a large number of responses from community members WITHOUT Internet at home.
Of respondents WITH Internet, over 55% identified as White, and the majority reported a household income of $50,000 or more. Of respondents WITHOUT Internet, 75% identified as Hispanic, and the majority reported a household income under $21,000. Speed test data gathered from community members WITH Internet access revealed the following:
- 8.5% of respondents were SERVED (at or above 100/20 Mbps download/upload)
- 37% of respondents were UNDERSERVED (above 25/3 Mbps download/upload but below 100/20 Mbps download/upload)
- 54% of respondents were UNSERVED (below 25/3 Mbps download/upload)
Magellan Advisors gathered information via interviews with key local stakeholders and from a survey conducted by the State of New Mexico. With the support of County personnel, Magellan Advisors conducted seven discussion groups with 50 representatives of organizations with a stake in broadband and other forms of digital connectivity.
While Doña Ana County nominally has three major ISPs, only one—the telephone company—offers services in most of the County and a second—one of the cable companies—offers services only in more affluent, densely populated areas. Persons with lower incomes and of non-White ethnicity are relatively unlikely to have internet access. The major barrier is cost, followed by lack of service.
Mamacitas Ciberneticas is a grassroots community outreach effort led by local residents of Southern Doña Ana County to help with increasing resources for residents of the area to upskill their digital literacy knowledge. In 2023, Mamacitas Ciberneticas conducted a Comprehensive Needs Assessment with the funding support of the City of Sunland Park to determine the feasibility of a pilot digital literacy education program. View the Findings and Recommendations Report that can be used to inform local stakeholders on current and true needs of the community to be able to secure funding and implement relevant digital literacy services.