Internet access is increasingly important to everyday life. Access to the information and services it provides fosters economic growth, job creation, education, and a better quality of life.
As part of a program to improve digital equity, Hillsborough County is conducting an assessment to determine where internet connectivity disparities are present within Hillsborough County and develop an action plan to provide increased, equitable, and effective broadband internet service coverage throughout the county.
The Hillsborough County broadband program supports activities and initiatives of the State of Florida Office of Broadband within the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). The information collected for the County’s Digital Equity Action Plan will be used to leverage federal funding through the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act to bridge the digital divide in the county. An outline of the program phases and activities is shown below.
Phase I: Community Needs Assessment and Digital Equity Action Plan
1. Assess the Environment
- Perform a gap analysis of underserved and unserved areas
- Determine the state of current infrastructure and asset inventory
- Identify available internet service providers
2. Identify Gaps and Community Impact
- Conduct a community consumer survey and speed test
- Perform public and municipal outreach
- Hold targeted stakeholder community engagement meetings
- Create a Local Technology Planning Team (LTPT)
- Complete a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges (SWOC) analysis
3. Develop Community Needs Assessment
- Document cellular coverage
- Identify partnerships to ensure cost-effectiveness and impact
- Identify potential broadband connectivity projects
4. Develop Digital Equity Action Plan and Roadmap
- Identify potential funding sources
- Finalize Digital Equity Plan and roadmap
- Present Digital Equity Action Plan to the Board of County Commissioners
Phase II: Broadband Infrastructure and Digital Equity Action Plan Implementation
5. Grant Application(s) and RFP Publication
- Develop and submit grant applications
- Publish a Request for Proposal (RFP) for broadband deployment
6. Digital Equity and Broadband Projects
- Implement Digital Equity Action Plan projects
- Execute broadband deployment projects
- 7. Monitor all Digital Equity Efforts and Continuously Improve
- FCC Affordable Connectivity Program – federal benefit with monthly discount toward internet service for eligible households
- Broadband Opportunity Program – Governor DeSantis awarded more than $226 million to expand broadband opportunities in rural communities throughout Florida. Approximately $906,000 will be used to add 122.8 miles of fiber optic cable to the existing network to provide 1,792 unserved locations within Hillsborough County (including Plant City, Unincorporated Balm, Keysville, Lithia and Wimauma) with symmetrical download and upload speeds of 1GB.
- FloridaConnect Broadband Map – Residents in unserved areas may search for their property on this interactive map to determine if their location is included in a future broadband service area as awarded by the State of Florida Office of Broadband Opportunity Program. If you are unable to locate your address or need further assistance, please contact Broadband@HCFLGov.net.
County Broadband Program Questions: