What Austin is working on: The City of Austin has a long history of undertaking and championing broadband projects. In 1991, the City partnered with six other public entities to create the Greater Austin Area Telecommunications Network (GAATN), a metropolitan-wide network for public sector members. The GAATN network is 371 miles of fiber that carries voice, data, video, and radio circuits to the seven members and expands their communication services.
The City established Austin Free-Net in 1995, and continues to maintain it, to provide public access to computers and the Internet to those who cannot afford it. Additionally, the City has administered the Grant for Technology Opportunities (GTOPs) program since 2001. This matching-fund grant program supports local non-profits and organizations in their efforts to include all Austinites in an emerging digital society through digital literacy and broadband access programs.
Participation in the digital world is now a necessity. As Austin undergoes a broadband revolution with the introduction of ultra high-speed Internet, it is also undertaking efforts to be digitally inclusive. The Austin City Council directed the drafting of a strategic plan to address the digital divide in Austin. This plan will outline ways to increase access to and understanding of the Internet and its possibilities.