ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – High-speed internet has become as essential as gas or water in today’s age, and Big Country internet providers say more needs to be done to ensure all Texans have access to broadband services.
“Internet is like electricity, you need to have it,” says Richard Kemp with WesTex Connect, a Big Country based internet provider.
Kemp says the pandemic put into perspective for WesTex Connect and local representatives just how big the gaps are when it comes to rural residents having access to high-speed internet.
“In District 19, which I think is 29 counties, a third of the district does not have high-speed internet in their homes,” said Kemp.
Kemp made mention of the current infrastructure plans being laid out by the Biden administration – mainly sharing his hopes that plans would allocate funds for companies like WesTex Connect to build in communities that are not yet internet friendly.
When asked why companies had not yet branched out to remote communities, Kemp put it plainly: the populations are just too small to be a priority at the moment.
“It’s a fine line you’re looking at,” said Kemp. “Looking at the different demographics of a community, and does it justify building a very expensive tower and running fiber into the certain market. It’s a Catch 22.”
Fiber-Optic Internet is also on the minds of many residents today. In Abilene, new competitors offering fiber-optic-speed internet have brought competition to the Key City’s market.
For example, Vexus, the most notable and recent challenger, has been popping up in neighborhoods across the city.
Off highway 351 in the Heritage Parks neighborhood, HOA President John Hernandez says Vexus has been laying fiber optic lines for roughly a month now, putting in the groundwork for long-term wins for homeowners.
“When we’re thinking of maintaining the home values we have in Heritage Parks, you have to say, ‘What is the infrastructure that will support those home values?'” said Hernandez.
While the project has sustained some growing pains in the form of clipped water lines and occasional power outages, Hernandez says the few weeks of inconvenience will pay off for the developing neighborhood.
“That’s just the price of progress,” said Hernandez.