Increased broadband

More than $4 million will be used to bring better internet service to 2,468 rural residents in Bell County and other surrounding areas, the Federal Communications Commission announced this week.

The FCC approved nearly $76.7 million in funding for the next decade to expand broadband to 33,901 rural Texas homes and businesses in 89 counties, according to a news release. This is part of an effort to bring high-speed internet to rural areas that lack broadband.

“As one who lives out in the country, I can tell you that there is a need for the extension and the expansion of the broadband internet network,” Bell County Judge David Blackburn said. “I look forward to seeing that occur in Bell County.”

The Weatherford-based AMG Technology Investment Group will receive more than $4 million in federal funds to expand broadband to rural areas of Bell, Falls, Lampasas, Milam and Williamson counties. The company will provide broadband for 86 counties targeted by the FCC.

AMG Technology Investment Group does business as Nextlink Internet and operates in North and Central Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The FCC allocated $661,194 to create 281 connections in Bell County; more than $1.4 million for 644 connections in Lampasas County; more than $1 million for 636 connections in Milam County; $603,662 for 560 connections in Falls County; and $271,254 for 347 connections in Williamson County.

“High-speed internet provides access to opportunity in the 21st century, and the FCC’s top priority is closing the digital divide so that all Americans can fully participate in our connected society,” FCC chairman Ajit Pat said.

The FCC set minimum speed requirements for each of those projects.

AMG Technology is required to provide internet with a minimum download speed of 100 megabits per second and an upload speed of 20 Mbps in Bell and Lampasas counties.

The company will provide internet with a download speed of 25 Mbps and an upload speed of 3 Mbps in Falls, Milam and Williamson counties.

The FCC requires internet service providers to have at least 40 percent of their required connections built within three years. After that, they must increase that number by 20 percent until it meets the FCC’s requirements.

“Access to broadband isn’t just about connecting to the internet. It’s an issue of safety, of education, and of health for rural Texans,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said in a statement. “I’m grateful to the Trump administration for recognizing the critical need for broadband in rural areas and for supporting the connectivity of nearly 34,000 rural Texas households.”