Installation of a state-of-the-art system that will open the Village of Raymondville to unique high tech services is under way. The project, made possible through a $727,288 federal grant, will allow citizens of the eastern Texas County community to receive access to services only available in select Missouri towns.
Under the effort, the Texas County Rural Area Information Network (TRAIN) with assistance from the Village of Raymondville, Intercounty Electric Cooperative and Top of the Ozarks RC & D, received the funds to install one of the first fiber optics to the home projects in the state.
Farrell Christeson, a technician with TRAIN, said the organization will bring high speed Internet service, as well the possibility of telephone services and “on demand” features such as high definition television programming and movies.
Christeson said linemen with Intercounty Electric Cooperative are installing advanced fiber optic wiring on utility poles. The work is expected to take about two weeks.
“The fiber will allow the residents of Raymondville choices only major cities normally have,” he said. “We also hope (it) will help Raymondville attract businesses and jobs to the area and fiber to the home will help property values in the area just as having electric and running water increases the value of your property.”
Studies show that communities with the services see a considerable increase in property values, he said.
Under the grant, there is no cost to have the fiber brought to each business or home in the village. Permission forms and a self-addressed stamped envelope were mailed last week to property owners. Christenson said it is important that residents sign the form if they think they or a future owner might want the services. After the initial installation, it is estimated that the work will later cost $700 to $1,000. By giving an okay, owners will have the fiber available free – even if they have no immediate need for any of the services. If someone wants the service, it will be priced according to speed.
Once Intercounty runs the fiber on poles, it will then being installing fiber drops to each home and business that has given permission.
“There is absolutely no cost for installing fiber to the home or business, and the owner is in no way obligated to ever purchase any service that may be available by the fiber,” Christeson said.
The fiber does not enter the building. It is terminated at a box called an ‘optical network terminator’ that looks much like a gray telephone box on the exterior of homes. If the resident wants Internet service, TRAIN will later install the electronics in the box and run the needed lines inside the home.
Public access stations will also be situated in downtown Raymondville. Beginning Monday, two part-time TRAIN employees will staff the office for the next two years to help residents. Anyone can stop by, receive information and sign a permission agreement, Christeson said.
The Community Public Access Center next to the village hall will have 10 public access computers and a “hotspot” for those with wireless devices. There is no cost. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday. Children under 18 can use it after their parents have obtained an Internet card for them.
TRAIN began offering Internet services in 1997 utilizing a state grant for startup expenses. At the time, service was not available without incurring a toll charge. It has about 900 dial-up customers. It began offering high-speed wireless Internet services earlier this year, and it has a waiting list.