More of rural Central Texas getting high-speed internet access

SAN SABA, Texas (KWTX) – A federal program is working to provide greater connectivity to hundreds of homes, businesses and farms in rural areas within San Saba and Lampasas counties.

“Because of the pandemic, we saw where we had big pockets of this country that are not connected to internet,” said Lillian Salerno, the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development State Director for Texas.

One of those pockets is rural Central Texas.

According to the State Comptroller’s Office, more than two-million Texas households don’t have access to high speed internet.

Salerno explains, in part, why.

“1: rural America gets left out of things, 2: it’s not centralized so it’s more expensive in some places to put internet, especially in places like Central Texas that have huge granite blocks and rough terrain,” said Salerno. “That’s why we’re so committed for Texas, there’s somewhere between 25 and 30 percent of Texans that don’t have access to internet, it’s just unacceptable.”

Part of that commitment is the USDA’s funding for High-Speed ​​Internet Access in Rural Central Texas.

This month, the agency announced a multi-million dollar grant for communities in San Saba and Lampasas counties through Central Texas Telephone Cooperative, Inc.

The almost $10,000,000 award will build a fiber network to bring high-speed internet to almost 650 people, 20 businesses and 150 farms.

One of CTTC’s current clients is Mills County Medical Clinic, which serves a very rural population.

“I think it’s (connectivity) very important in our area,” said Crystal Dowell, Family Nurse Practitioner at the Coryell Health Mills County Clinic. “Our patients, they barely can sometimes get to our clinic much less anywhere else.”

Dowell says having high-speed internet is crucial.

“We wouldn’t have been able to see patients during COVID at all, we relied on telehealth to be able to see our patients,” said Dowell. “I think it was essential for us.”

To learn more about the USDA funding go here.

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