October 2, 2019
Co-ops such as Bandera Electric Cooperative are leading the way in bringing high-speed Internet to rural Texas.
It’s only been three months since Governor Greg Abbott in June signed Senate Bill 14, state Sen. Robert Nichols‘ plan to “empower” co-ops to bring Internet service to members they serve by allowing them to use their existing electricity easements.
The legislation aimed at keeping down the costs of wiring rural areas for Internet services while encouraging the laying fiber optic cable along co-op electricity routes, which offer a natural right-of-way.
Contractors for Bandera Electric Co-Op, about an hour east of San Antonio, are already hanging steel lashing wire to poles along power-service routes, NPR reports, part of CEO Bill Hetherington‘s plan to offer services to most of its 30,000 members within three years.
Hetherington calls broadband service “important to the co-op’s future.
“Without it, businesses and people may not move here.”
He told Texas Public Radio that Bandera’s economic growth “has hit double digits since they began to offer the high-speed Internet.”
And Hetherington says other co-ops are asking Bandera how they’re getting it done and moving so fast.
Federal money is trickling in for helping expand broadband service in Texas (and of course nationwide).
In April, President Donald Trump announced a $20 billion plan to broaden broadband access to rural areas nationwide, wand some of that money has been coming to Texas.