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Parts of Bexar County, Texas, to See $5M Internet Push

Spectrum will soon lay fiber-optic cables in parts of southern and eastern Bexar County that lack high-speed Internet access or broadband infrastructure. The county will spend more than $5 million on the effort.

(TNS) — Spectrum will soon lay fiber optic cables in parts of southern and eastern Bexar County that lack high-speed Internet access — or any broadband infrastructure at all.

The county will spend more than $5 million on the effort, which is part of a larger plan to get households across the county connected to fast Internet.

"One of the goals that I had talked about during my campaign was to close the digital divide," Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai said during Tuesday's commissioners court meeting. Sakai took office in January.

The county has set aside $25.25 million of its $389 million of federal pandemic relief to build high-speed Internet infrastructure in unincorporated Bexar County and the county's suburban cities.

On Tuesday, it entered into a $5.4 million contract with Spectrum to install high-speed fiber across 597 miles, which will give 8,761 homes access to Internet with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second.

Spectrum is contributing $26 million to the effort, which is expected to wrap up by December 2025.

The county's share of the costs will increase in the second phase of the project, which will focus on the remaining 1,400 households without high-speed broadband networks in unincorporated Bexar County.

That phase is expected to cost the county $6.1 million, with Spectrum contributing $4 million, said Mark Gager, the county's chief information officer.

That difference between the county's two cash allocations is that the area to be covered in the second phase "is a lot less dense, so they need to cover their costs at some point," he said of the Internet provider.

Commissioners court still has to decide whether to connect all 1,400 households, or to only lay down enough fiber to cover a portion of them in order to lessen the cost to the county.

The court must also decide how to connect neighborhoods in suburban cities — something Sakai said is a priority for him. How much that would cost the county is unknown, Gager said, but Spectrum will give commissioners an estimate within the next 30 days.

The county has until the end of 2026 to spend its pandemic relief dollars.

©2023 the San Antonio Express-News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.