HSBay making broadband strides

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An agreement in principle between the City of Horseshoe Bay, Zeecon Wireless Internet and Northland Cable could help many more Horseshoe Bay residents finally get reliable internet service, said one HSB City Council member last month.

“We’ve always had to approach this from different angles because there is not just one solution,” said Councilmember Frank Hosea, the city’s liaison to the Broadband Advisory Committee, who has been in negotiations with Zeecon and Northland in an effort to solve the city’s internet challenges.

“It is a very difficult solution because of the number of homes per mile and the amount of distribution It will have to be a combination of technologies for a long time.”

Under the agreement, which now must be drafted by attorneys for the separate entities, the city will provide four-inch conduit and fiber that Northland will install in two places:

• From Escondido Golf Course, across Sun Ray and through Holes No. 17 and 18 on the Apple Rock Golf Course to the Cap Rock Pavilion, where Zeecon will install a tower (with permission from Horseshoe Bay Resort) on the Cap Rock Pavilion clubhouse.

“Once there is a tower on the Cap Rock clubouse, everyone on the back side of Bay West will be able to receive a point-to-multipoint service from Zeecon that is going to be in the 25MB range,” Hosea said. “There will be different levels of service available. The build will take two months once it is all approved.

“Currently they cannot hit anything on the backside of Bay West. Some residents are taking internet from Rise Communications — shot across Lake LBJ — and it is very spotty, or they have satellite or they don’t have anything,” Hosea added. “Lago Escondido, Matern Island … they will all get strong internet service. It will only have to be broadcast from the top of the hill at Cap Rock down, so that will be a big win.”

• From the Summit Rock Golf Course barn on Summit Rock Boulevard to the Summit Rock water tower near Texas 71 West, where Zeecon will install a tower (with permission from the City of Horseshoe Bay) on the water tower.

“The advantage of Summit is, instead of having a point-to-point wireless connection from Summit water tower back to LCRA Ferguson (Power Plant), it will now be fibered, so they are going to move that point-to-point connection and put up additional point-to-multipoint connections, so there will be another swath of customers who can be serviced who couldn’t be serviced before,” Hosea said.

Hosea said Northland Cable has agreed to provide a breakout of capital commitment for a period of five years in Horseshoe Bay and perform additional upgrades — after which time, the city will then give the fiber to Northland Cable once those projects are completed.

“The only cost to the city will be the cost of the fiber and the cost of the conduit in the construction phase,” Hosea said. “Once Northland has realized their five-year capital commitment, we will give them the fiber. I don’t want the city to have to be responsible for maintaining the fiber, but I want to get something back for that.

“The main thing I want in any agreement are clawbacks,” Hosea said. “If for any reason Northland doesn’t provide the capital they say they are going to, we will have clawbacks in the contract. The cherry at the end of it is that Northland will own the fiber. We will give them the fiber if they commit to this. The city will always own the conduit; that will be an asset on the books for the city.”

Hosea said the capital commitment from Northland will likely play out in five to six phases, but Phase II would include putting in more fiber in the Enclave and Pecan Creek areas.

“Some people may ask in Horseshoe Bay proper, ‘How does this help me?’” Hosea said. “It won’t help now, necessarily, but through increasing the number of broadcast points and getting fiber deeper into Horseshoe Bay, there will be incentive in Horseshoe Bay proper to replace cable with fiber and increase speeds.”

Once a written agreement is ironed out, it will be brought to City Attorney Rex Baker to be reviewed before it is also presented to the Horseshoe Bay City Council, Hosea said.