It was time to push back against corporate interests that have criticized us for investing in our city and investing in our future.  

For decades, companies like AT&T and Spectrum (and their predecessors) refused to invest in communities like ours because it was not profitable. One unfortunate result of this was the digital divide, which left cities like Brownsville unable to compete with more affluent communities around the country.  As time went by, the problem only got worse. This was simply not acceptable.  

In 2018 and 2019, Brownsville was ranked as one of the least connected communities in the country. We decided to change that in October 2019, bringing together a group of stakeholders with a goal of solving the issue. Now, less than three years later, we have entered into a public private partnership that will serve as a model for others. Under this structure, the City is investing $20 million and a private provider is putting up the remaining $70 million for a citywide, 90+ mile fiber network that will not only be cheaper, but faster than the current options from the big boys.  

There is little doubt that internet connectivity and fiber infrastructure is a must. It is an economic development tool. It helps our hospitals provide better healthcare, gives our students more opportunities for an education and it helps make our businesses more competitive and better able to grow.  

I will continue to be attacked for doing the right thing, for investing in our community, and for leading this initiative. AT&T and Spectrum were given an opportunity to provide solutions and to partner with us for almost two years, but they refused. The irony is that the companies who created the digital divide will now likely profit from it by obtaining federal dollars to build infrastructure in communities that were historically left behind. They will fight hard and they will hire the best lobbyists to keep their grip on the industry. In the end, we will do our best to stay ahead of the curve and keep moving forward. On the Border, by the Sea and Beyond!

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Mayor of Brownsville, Trey Mendez. It first appeared on Facebook in response to criticism of the City of Brownsville’s universal access broadband project by telecom giants like AT&T and Spectrum. AT&T’s first public criticism appeared here in the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service. Spectrum’s first public criticism appeared here in the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column is the second in a three-part series ob broadband infrastructure in the Rio Grande Valley. Click here to read Part One. Part Three will appear in our next edition.

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