Amarillo City Council gives $6 million from American Rescue Plan to city broadband access plan

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:21 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Amarillo City Council approved a city broadband access plan to support areas with low internet connection and families on low income.

The city has already installed radios on top the police department building as a proof of concept and is working to identifiy Amarillo ISD students to begin connecting them immediately.

The plan will have radio transmitters placed on top of water towers to reach homes in a three mile radius of the towers.

The city expects to have the transmitters placed on top of the towers in a couple of months.

This will save the city money, not having to install fiber cords.

It also helps lower the overall cost of broadband speeds.

“The other part of this solution that’s important is that it greatly reduces the costs for broadband speeds,” said Rich Gagnon, CIO and Management Director for the City of Amarillo. “It meets the federal requirements of the ARP program of 100 mg both ways which means you have 100 mg upload and and 100 mg download speeds.”

Beyond water towers, radio mesh transmitters can be used to further extend internet access helping people living in the outskirts of Amarillo.

The goal is to provide internet access across the Panhandle.

The council has been formed including the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, Amarillo Area Foundation, and Region 16 school district to see how everyone can get connected.

“We fully understand that when you connect the household of a student you’re connecting that entire household,” said Gaby Rowe, chairperson for Operation Connectivity. “That can make a groundshifting difference for that family, that community, and that region.”

The federal government will be making a second payment in May or June and city leaders can use some of those funds for this plan.

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