Rural counties surrounding San Antonio get millions to expand broadband internet

Funding meant to close 'digital divide'

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SAN ANTONIO – Rural homes and businesses in Texas will receive more than $300 million in federal funding over the next 10 years "for maintaining, improving, and expanding affordable broadband," the feds announced last week.

The benefactors of the Federal Communications Commission funding include several counties surrounding San Antonio. Those counties include Bandera, receiving $17 million; Edwards, $1 million; Gillespie, $13 million; Kendall, $9 million; Kerr, $39 million; Medina, $1.5 million; and Uvalde, $4 million.

Access to high-speed internet is a major issue in rural areas. 

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"Our action today will help close the digital divide and is a win-win for rural Americans and taxpayers, including over 23,400 homes and small businesses in Texas," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a statement.

The funding is part of a nearly $5 billion federal initiative to improve access to high-speed internet in rural places. The money helps subsidize "rate-of-return" internet carriers to build more networks and offer internet access for reasonable prices, as compared to urban areas.

"The homes and businesses are in sparsely populated rural areas where the per-location price of deployment and ongoing costs of providing broadband service are high, requiring support from the FCC's Universal Service Fund to facilitate network improvements and keep rates reasonably comparable to those in urban areas," a press release states.

To be eligible for the funding, carriers must "maintain, improve and expand" internet service of at least 25 megabits per second download speed.

About the Author:

Kolten Parker is digital executive producer at KSAT. Previously, he worked at the San Antonio Express-News and the Texas Observer.