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Leticia Ozuna Still Working Toward Citywide Broadband Goal

Ryan Loyd
TPR News
Ozuna began work on a major broadband network to link medical and learning institutions so they could share large data files for education and research purposes.

A "New York Times" article on the state of broadband internet access in the United States in part focuses on San Antonio and the work of former councilwoman Leticia Ozuna.

Ozuna lost her bid for City Council District 3 in May, but she is not giving up on the work she did to kickstart a mega broadband effort here.

The "Times" article said countries like Latvia have internet speeds two and a half times that of U.S. cities like San Antonio. Instead of focusing on connecting people who don't have the internet or trying to build a broadband network between medical institutions and colleges, Ozuna believes the U.S. is going a different direction than Latvia.

"We have other communications companies very interested in making sure we get NFL football and HBO and all of those things, and that kind of leaves a big gap in the middle for a school or a college student," Ozuna said. "And that's kind of the gap that I'm interested in and concerned about because that's really quality of life for the citizens of a city like San Antonio."

With better connection speeds, more people able to access the internet and a network of broadband participants, Ozuna believes students could benefit from interactive videos of classes that aren't offered on their campus. Another example, she said, are patients who could receive better treatment from doctors who may not be regionally accessible.

Ozuna said Austin already has a network established between more than a dozen participants, allowing them to communicate large data files. She said it costs $2 million to operate, but it saves each of the 14 participants $2 million, making the case that the benefit of savings far outweigh the cost.

In San Antonio, the lines are in place waiting on being connected to someone.

"We have already done the hard infrastructure stuff," said Ozuna. "We just have to decide who's an eligible participant and how are we going to manage the ownership and reinvestment cycle on this. It's not that complex for us. We are definitely in a really good position."

A White House report said more people connected could increase economic activity. Reliable broadband, it said, is needed to compete globally.

Ozuna is working toward legislative action and bringing people to the table to not only increase internet speed, but also the number of people who can access it.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.