Herb Krasner gives a proposal on behalf of Connected Burnet County to bring broadband internet to about 600 homes in Spicewood during the Burnet County Emergency Services District No. 9 board meeting. The proposal is part of the overall mission of Connected Burnet County to bring broadband to the entire county. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey
Connected Burnet County officials pitched a pilot project to bring high-speed internet to Spicewood by “AirFiber.” The plan would use emergency services district infrastructure and privately owned fiber-optic cable already in place but would require building a new antenna.
Connected Burnet County’s Herb Krasner presented the pilot program concept to ESD No. 9 commissioners during their meeting Wednesday, July 20.
The pilot project, which would serve about 600 Spicewood homes, centers on using an existing tower on ESD property with fiber-optic cable already connected. The tower would broadcast high-speed internet via high-frequency waves to a new antenna, which would then relay it to nearby residences set up to receive it. This method is called AirFiber.
Connected Burnet County was created by Krasner and Burnet County commissioners Damon Beierle and Joe Don Dockery.
The proposed pilot project in Spicewood would be used to bolster grant applications for federal and state funds that will be made available in the fall through the Texas Broadband Development Office. The valuable data gained from completing the project could fortify future grant applications to bring broadband to all of Burnet County.
“We are in the process of developing a countywide plan to figure out what our attack strategy is,” Krasner told DailyTrib.com. “We’re going to leverage off what exists and build to connect everyone in the county.”
Broadband is a general term that refers to high-speed internet that reaches speeds of at least 100 Mbps (megabits per second). Currently, high-speed internet isn’t widely available in some parts of Burnet County.
Krasner, who lives near the Spicewood airport, said he and his neighbors often have connection speeds of 5 Mbps and are charged exorbitant rates by internet providers.
The proposed use of the tower on ESD No. 9’s property is dependent upon access ti existing fiber-optic cable that runs to the tower. The cable is owned by Fiberlight, a broadband infrastructure company that has over 10,000 miles of fiber-optic cable laid across Texas.
ESD No. 9 commissioners, however, raised concerns about the project, particularly use of the tower.
“We want to talk about the stability of the tower,” said board president Bruce Mills.
According to Mills, the tower is over 24 years old and in unknown structural condition. It was originally used for local emergency services dispatching and radio communications.
ESD No. 9 is a publicly funded government entity with a charter that lays out responsibilities for providing fire protection and emergency services to residents within the district.
The commissioners asked Krasner to return with a thorough proposal to their next regular meeting, which is at 6 p.m. Aug. 17 at 9805 Texas 71.