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Bexar County planning multi-million dollar expansion of broadband Internet access

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff highlighted areas that need access to affordable, high-speed Internet access.

SAN ANTONIO — Bridging the digital divide in Bexar County.

Judge Nelson Wolff said this week there is a multi-million dollar plan to bring broadband Internet to areas of development in the southwest and southeastern portions of the county.

For one county commissioner, its an area of need he’s tried to address in his precinct.

In San Antonio proper, people take advantage of the resources offered to them when it comes to accessing Internet.

“I’ve got a new venture and I’m semi-displaced because my house is under construction,” Allen Noah says he is using the public Wi-Fi at the Carver Library on the east side for the first time.

He’s got Internet at home—but feels for those who didn’t have internet access, like school children.

“A lot of children in communities like this where low-income families dwell, they didn’t really have access to the Internet,” Noah said.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said Wednesday there’s a plan to expand broadband internet that could cost anywhere between $25 to $50 million. KENS 5 asked Judge Wolff about his plan at a press conference on Wednesday.

“It would be an investment getting the infrastructure there and working with the providers,” Judge Wolff said during his roundtable discussion. Judge Wolff said they would be targeting areas in Precincts 1 and 4.

“This is a thing I’ve been fighting for 8 years in office now,” Tommy Calvert, Bexar County Commissioner for Precinct 4 says in the far east and north sides of the county—he says there’s not much broadband Internet access at all.

Last year, Commissioner Calvert said the court approved a $250,000 to develop a plan to expand broadband internet access, but Commissioner Calvert says there’s no reason to wait when neighborhoods are being developed at a rapid rate.

“I think there are neighborhoods that have been waiting, by Randolph [Air Force Base], off of FM 1516, [FM] 1518 in the northeast side and all the way down southeast other parts of the county, we know where the hotspots are and we just got to get it delivered,” Commissioner Calvert said.

Even around the AT&T Center where KENS 5 was reporting on Thursday, the connectivity is slow compared to areas like the northeast side of the county, according to Calvert.

At places like the San Antonio Library, usage of the public library Internet has increased, although it’s not back to pre-pandemic levels.

Judge Wolff says there are government plans to subsidize Internet services to make it affordable.

Noah thinks Internet access isn’t a luxury, but a need.

“I think this is a worthy effort for the county to look into as well, in order to shorten that gap,” Noah said.

The Texas Broadband Office is conducting studies to establish where Internet access is needed. A spokesperson for the Texas Comptroller’s Office told KENS 5 the study could come out on June 15.

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