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New interactive map shows broadband Internet access in Texas, Crossroads

By Gabe Semenza
June 16, 2010 at 1:16 a.m.


REVIEW THE MAP

To review broadband access in Texas, visit www.ConnectedTx.org. There, you can pinpoint the availability of different services and provide input to help keep the map updated.

If a map prompts service providers to offer more high-speed Internet access to the Crossroads, area business leaders say they're all for it.

The region's economic health depends in part on broadband connection to the outside world, they say.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples released Wednesday the first map that details high-speed Internet access across the state.

The map highlights unserved rural areas in hopes of luring service to those communities, Staples said.

Not surprisingly, the map shows that many parts of the Crossroads - a largely rural area - lack such access.

"We're still in the Dark Ages here," said Lenny Anzaldua, director of the Refugio County Economic Development Corp. and president of the county's chamber of commerce.

The state says high-speed Internet access is critical to business development, health care, education and online government.

Efforts in Refugio County to lure broadband access failed in recent months.

"We understand the need for broadband. If you don't have it, it's sad," Anzaldua said. "Companies don't like to go to places that don't have high-speed Internet. The map will help me get my point across to local leadership that we need to work on that."

The interactive map, available at www.ConnectedTx.org, shows 96 percent of Texas households have high-speed Internet access - but 250,000 homes do not.

The map allows users to search specific areas to learn whether broadband access exists and, if so, what services are available.

A search of Goliad County shows sparse broadband availability. By highlighting such areas, the state hopes service providers target unserved or under-served counties for future investment.

"We certainly have limited access," said Erika Bochat, director of Goliad's community and economic development. "We tend to be a little isolated. The map is encouraging for the development of this area."

Dale Fowler, director of the Victoria Economic Development Corp., said positive economic development in surrounding counties helps Victoria, and vice versa.

Victoria County boasts the most comprehensive access to broadband Internet services in the Crossroads, according to the map.

"In today's environment, broadband access is critical to most business sustainability," Fowler said. "If surrounding counties improve, that's good for Victoria."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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