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Bell County is looking to expand broadband internet infrastructure

Rural communities dealing with lack of internet access, small internet companies filling gap
Posted at 6:34 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 19:43:26-04

BELL COUNTY, TX — A lot of people in Bell County, especially in rural areas, have little to no access to quality high speed internet but, that could all be changing soon.

Bell County is working with the area cities to plan a massive over hall to their broadband infrastructure to expand internet access across the county.

Thanks to funds included in the American Rescue Plan, counties and cities area able to begin planning a massive upgrade to their broadband infrastructure and bell county is wasting any time.

“I think most people these days view internet access as a utility that is just as important to them as water, as sewer, as electricity, as all those again that we would classify as a utility today,” said David Blackburn, Bell County Judge.

The process of improving the broadband infrastructure is expensive so the money from the American Rescue plan is essential and now that they have received guidance from the federal government on how to spend the funds, work can begin.

”Treasury guidelines arrived yesterday or were released yesterday. It's going to take a couple of weeks probably, to go through those guidelines,” said Blackburn.

While the county gets to work, city officials are doing their part to make the broadband expansion project happen.

”We’re partnering with bell county as well as many of the cities throughout the region and we hope we get participation from all of them so we can include everybody in the service that we’re trying to expand,” said Jennifer Hetzel, Director of Research for Killeen Chamber of Commerce.

Part of that partnership is an online community survey to collect data on the current broadband situation and it is something they said needs more community participation.

”It’s very important that we get a comprehensive participation from the community because if we only get people from a certain part of the region or the town to fill out the survey, it’s not giving us a complete picture,” said Hetzel.

The goal is to bring better faster internet to the area making it possible for more people and bigger businesses can come with it.

Businesses that participate in the survey can earn a free lunch.

You can find the survey at this website: