CobbFendley was contracted by Fort Bend County to conduct a Broadband Improvement Initiative. This initiative included performing a feasibility study with recommendations for implementation strategies. CobbFendley’s phased approach began with taking inventory of existing network assets, providers, and available services. This includes an analysis of regulatory and jurisdictional considerations to address in evaluating implementation strategies. The next step was for CobbFendley to conduct a needs and gap analysis to identify underserved or low adoption locations and determine root causes. Stakeholder engagement and public outreach provided feedback and input for the County to explore strategic partnership to implement the most feasible, sustainable, and innovative broadband access in the community. The study also included a Community Impact Analysis, which looks in depth at the community and business impacts to creating robust and reliable broadband connectivity. CobbFendley’s base recommendation for this Broadband Improvement Initiative is a network solution that meets or exceeds a minimum of 100Mbps symmetrical (100 /100Mbps) speed for residential service which would provide levels of service above the minimum standards for high-speed reliable internet. A greenfield based Middle Mile High-Level Design was developed as a part of this study to understand the full capacity of Middle Mile needed to have sufficient capacity for last mile connection.
Leveraging the various funding sources, in partnership with private providers, can help implement the High-Level Design and incentivize the last mile deployment with the ultimate goal of closing the digital divide in Fort Bend County. A funding analysis was conducted as well as the ability to evaluate providers pro formas and business plans and financial modeling. The study’s goal was to provide the County with documentation and recommendations to address digital equity concerns of today and while providing opportunities and incentives for economic development in the future. With CobbFendley’s success of managing the feasibility study, the County retained the project team to continue to provide project management and technical assistance support through the continued implementation of the initiative.