The goal of “Panhandle Connected” is to ensure that all students and cities in the Panhandle of Texas have access to sustainable, low-cost, and equitable internet connectivity. Region 16, The City of Amarillo, Amarillo Area Foundation, Connected Nation, local businesses, vested business partners, and nonprofit organizations have been working together in “the Panhandle Spirit” to build what we call “Panhandle Connected.” We understand that everything works together as an ecosystem. We need to attract, train, and maintain local talent, but we can’t do this unless there are strong business development and educational opportunities. Furthermore, business development and education opportunities can’t exist without modern means of connectivity which is why we need to work together for the benefit of all.
Panhandle Connected is now applying for the NTIA BEAD Grant to provide broadband access in all 62 Panhandle communities. We are seeking communities to partner with in the effort to secure funding. Learn more here and contact us to join this once-in-a-generation opportunity!
HELP US SPREAD THE WORD IN YOUR COMMUNITY! https://broadbandmap.fcc.gov/home
is the condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy. Digital Equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services. (National Digital Inclusion Alliance)
By the numbers
As of February 2022, almost 90% of non-Hispanic whites in Texas have broadband access, compared to 80% of Black Texans and 78% of Hispanic Texans. report from the Texas Comptroller’s Office
One out of every four rural Texans (1.25 million) lacks access to broadband infrastructure (compared to only 2% of urban residents). (Connected Texas)
Just over $5.1 billion in potential economic benefit is left unrealized among disconnected households. (Connected Texas)
One-third of households that do not subscribe to the internet say the cost of service is too expensive. (Connected Texas)
Here in the Panhandle
74 Census Block Groups lack coverage for 90-100% of their residents
That represents the 14,551 most underserved households in the Panhandle
These underserved households are made up of 41,938 people
Source: Operation Connectivity
Amarillo Map of Total Number of Households in Census Blocks with No Internet Coverage (red is 0% coverage and brown is less than 10%)
What can we do?
Work TOGETHER, not separately.
- The Amarillo Connected Pilot is the leading connectivity pilot today in terms of public/private collaboration, scope of coverage, and affordability of both infrastructure and ongoing service.
- The Panhandle Connected expansion of this pilot represents a best-in-class model for both the Broadband Development Office and similar regions across Texas.
- The Panhandle Connected Regional Council has emerged as a leader in leveraging the collaborative development of universally accessible connectivity to drive economic development by facilitating access to accelerated learning, healthcare, and workforce development.
Amarillo Connected: City of Amarillo, Region 16, Impact Broadband, Amarillo College, Amarillo Area Foundation, and Panhandle Regional Planning Commission came together to ensure Amarillo residents have affordable, reliable, high-speed service.
- Must have a governmental or educational agency involved
- Establish an interlocal agreement with the City of Amarillo
JOIN US! Fill out this form to get started.
Panhandle Connected Team
Rich Gagnon is a highly experienced technologist and executive leader. Prior to filling his role at the city of Amarillo six years ago, Rich lead a worldwide engineering team responsible for over a billion dollars of annual revenue as the Global Vice-President of Systems Engineering for F5 Networks. He also led as the Theater Vice-President of the Americas for Palo Alto Networks and the Director of Global Infrastructure for Gamestop. Rich now applies his experience and proven track record of bringing transformative technical and business initiatives to market in the private sector to his work for the citizens of Amarillo. "It is an honor, a privilege, and a joy to work everyday serving the community we call home,"
A born and bred New Yorker, Gaby served as a school principal in NYC for 15 years where she was engaged in the development of NYC’s tech eco-system under Mayor Bloomberg and the transformation of local education policy leading to the development of Universal Pre-K. In 2014, she moved to Houston, TX to lead the largest independent school in the state. In 2018, Gaby made the jump to technology development and innovation, as the CEO of Station Houston, Houston’s leading startup accelerator. The following year, she became the founding Executive Director of the Ion, a $100 million innovation hub in Houston spearheaded by Rice University. In that role, Gaby secured the support of Intel, Microsoft, The City of Houston and others for the establishment of the Ion Smart and Resilient Cities Accelerator and helped bring DivInc and Greentown Labs to Houston, securing their permanent homes in the city’s Innovation District.
Since mid-2020 Gaby and Grow Associates have led Governor Abbott’s statewide program, Operation Connectivity. Operation Connectivity is Texas’ initiative to close the digital access and affordability gap for students across the State. Operation Connectivity is responsible for supplying more than 4.5M devices and securing $1B of support for closing the Digital Divide for Texas’ students, for mapping the connectivity needs of students across the state and for supporting the development of nearly a dozen innovative rural broadband pilots designed to bring highspeed connectivity to some the State’s most currently unserved communities.