One single click and the page loads instantly, allowing you to read this article. It’s all possible because of your high-speed broadband internet connection. However, things don’t happen this smoothly in East Texas. As technology gets deeply ingrained in our lives and the internet sprints ahead, rural customers of East Texas continue to lag behind.
One single click and the page loads instantly, allowing you to read this article. It’s all possible because of your high-speed broadband internet connection.
According to a 2016 broadband progress report from the Federal Communications Commission, about 40% of the 41 counties in East Texas had no broadband coverage by the year 2016. This means that about a third of 3 million Americans located in the region had limited access to the internet. Without a high-speed internet connection in this technology-driven age, the rural communities remain disconnected from the rest of the state.
However, all this is about to change due to The East Texas Fiber Project.
About the East Texas Fiber Project
East Texas Fiber Project is a major breakthrough that will bring the internet to the region’s rural communities. National OnDemand has been granted the responsibility of planting over 3000 miles of fiber-optic cable throughout the region.
Driving past the cattle farms overlooking the lush grasslands just west of Montgomery, Texas, Senior Director of Operations, Constructions & Fiber, Bob Powell, talked passionately about the revolutionary project:
“It is a part of a larger project that encompasses what ultimately would be about 3,000 miles of fiber plant to provide high-speed internet service to those who don’t currently live in the areas with service provided by either telephone companies or cable TV companies. Folks of rural areas are kind of handicapped by not having high-speed internet access.”
This is a one-of-a-kind project because of the population it plans to cater to. Ivan Orellana, the Local Manager of the East Texas Fiber Project, said: “Nation OnDemand’s focus is to get fiber to the rural areas, which is one of the things that other companies are not doing.”
Comparing the present situation of the local people and talking about the aim of the project, Ivan also said: “They (people of East Texas) were kind of left out all this time, and that’s an opportunity for us to go ahead and get that service to them and bring them on board.”
What to Expect?
What could be the potential impact of an investment of millions of dollars to bring high-speed connectivity to rural communities? The answer is simple: prosperity. This project is nothing short of a game-changer for the residents of East Texas. From farmers to teachers, from students to entrepreneurs, this project has the power to touch lives and make a positive impact.
Internet connectivity has become an indicator of the economic development of a region in recent times. With high-speed internet making its way into the lives of rural Americans, one can expect a substantial and quantifiable economic boost with its far-reaching effects on education, healthcare, and local businesses. The social lives of the residents will also be positively transformed.
Here are some potential benefits that the East Texas Fiber Project will offer:
A Way towards Highest-Quality Education
“It benefits everybody, not just members of the (electric) co-ops, to have high-speed data service,” said Bob Powell, Sr. Director of Operations, Constructions & Fiber.“The teachers are relying on online learning, online classrooms, and online homework. It can possibly limit the progress of the students if they are not able to access that content. And, without high-speed internet access, students are unable to participate in learning properly. We are making sure that our children get the highest quality education by utilizing and leveraging technology as much as possible.”
The role that the internet plays in learning today cannot be denied. Education has gone digital. Schools, colleges, and universities are turning to online platforms to make education accessible to everyone, everywhere. It is heartening to think that, with high-speed internet access, students belonging to rural communities, residing hours away from the nearest campus, will be able to enroll in online degree programs and follow their dreams of receiving a higher education. Such is the power of the internet!
New Business Opportunities for Farmers and Ranchers
What can farmers and ranchers possibly do on the internet? Target global markets, analyze weather conditions, learn about nutrient applications, use online agriculture tools to boost crop yields, buy and sell livestock online, and much more. An internet connection offers endless possibilities to these American farmers.
“I would expect that even some of these cattle farmers here could leverage that connection and technology that would be available to them, which they can’t access now,” says Bob.
East Texas Fiber Project intends to offer connectivity to inspire farmers and introduce them to the modern trends in agriculture and the latest tools. Farmers and ranchers will be able to improve the product quality and align their objectives with global standards to compete in the international market. Having an online presence means new business opportunities for them.
Better HealthCare Facilities
Healthcare facilities in rural areas have suffered due to the lack of internet connectivity. East Texas Fiber Project can change the face of rural healthcare by establishing a connection between rural clinics and urban medical centers. Through the internet, rural communities would also be able to get expert medical help. Rural hospitals will undergo digitization of medical records, which could then be archived in the cloud and accessible from anywhere in the world. Residents of East Texas would have the ability to book online appointments with doctors and buy medicines from online pharmacies without having to travel to the city.
Stronger Social Bonds
These rural communities have many retired folks who wish to connect with their families and friends in more developed, urban areas, who moved in pursuit of better opportunities. Children wish to connect with their grandparents during the holidays, but the poor or lack of internet connection keeps them from doing so. With the availability of high-speed internet in rural homes, this problem will be efficiently resolved. Elderly residents will remain connected with the younger members of their families through video chats. Better internet connectivity would lead to better communication, and this will result in stronger social bonds.
A Step Towards Prosperity
As you are reading this, 3000+ miles of fiber-optic is being planted. This is a huge step that aims to bring the rural communities in East Texas at par with the rest of the country. With the numerous benefits this project has to offer, it won’t be wrong to assume that this is the beginning of an era of prosperity for the residents of East Texas.