Horseshoe Bay continues to seek solutions to internet demand

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

A long-standing demand for reliable, speedy internet service in Horseshoe Bay is appearing in early results of the Long Range Planning Committee’s survey of property owners.

“We have a week left for people to respond to the survey, but we’re seeing a strong response about internet in the city: high-speed internet is the number one priority,” said Steve Jordan, Horseshoe Bay mayor, on April 7. “Because we don’t have a lot of options available to larger communities, we’re making the best of what we have.”

The lack of high-speed fiber optic internet across the entire 15 square miles of Horseshoe Bay remains a “complex and costly challenge,” said Stan Farmer, Horseshoe Bay city manager, in January.

The combination of lack of density and large area makes it an implausible proposition for either private investment or as a city project.

“If the city were to borrow money to pay for a project of this magnitude the increase in tax rate would be on the scale of approximately 14 cents, or a 56 percent increase; not a likely scenario to say the least,” Farmer said.

City leaders have agreements with two providers, Zeecon and VGI Technology.

Zeecon signed a contract last year to lease space on the city’s water tanks.

“They’ve improved their equipment, which is supposed to increase the speed,” Jordan said. “It will be an improvement, but it likely will not be at the level of some people consider ‘high-speed,’” Jordan said.

VGI signed in 2011 a tower lease agreement to provide wireless service primarily to Escondido. Farmer said he’s encouraged VGI to expand its service by adding equipment to the elevated tank in Summit Rock.

“In the meantime, Stan (Farmer) and I are continuing to explore other options that might be available down the road,” Jordan said. “I’m encouraged about other alternatives, but right now we just don’t have enough roof tops to attract some of the big providers.”

For more on this story, see The Highlander on Tuesday, April 12.

The Long Range Planning Committee Survey is available on the city website’s (www.horseshoe-bay-tx.gov) until April 18. The anonymous, five-minute survey was developed to give property owners input into the future of the city.

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