Texas Cities Evaluate Broadband Options for the New Year

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The cities of Bryan and College Station, Texas are in the early stages of exploring a city-owned broadband network. According to KBTX-TV, both cities’ officials say each municipality began pursuing this project to bridge the digital divide between the different neighborhoods and demographics within their city limits.

“That means understanding who has access to what services,” City of College Station Chief Information Officer Sindhu Menon said. “We also have an interest in if there is a way to improve the quality of services.”

Both cities have reached out to other municipalities with broadband networks to understand the risks and rewards. According to the City of Bryan Chief Information Officer Bernie Acre, the project will cost at least $100 million to complete. Acre added that the city’s consultant estimates that 580 miles of fiber is needed to complete the project regardless of variables.  

“There’s so many flavors out there,” Acre said. “There’s hybrid cellular or wireless with fiber. There’s fiber to the home. There’s public-private partnerships. There’s an open-source concept where you build it out and then invite people in, but that one’s not really going to work here.”

Bryan, in an effort to make a more informed decision, is preparing to launch an online survey for residents, reported KBTX-TV. Questions revolve around how much residents are willing to pay for certain speeds, whether they are happy with current providers, and if only broadband is needed, or cable TV, too. According to Acre, the survey will go live on January 4, 2021, and the city expects a sample size of 5,000 respondents. 

College Station officials have compiled a rough outline of three potential broadband options but are not ready for a resident survey yet. “There need to be deep-dive discussions on each of those options, all of which come with certain considerations,” Menon told KBTX-TV.

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