The City of Houston officially marked the launch of a $2 million system that will bring up to 1 gig internet access to homes and businesses in the community.

An event last week at the Houston Storm Shelter — where most of the operational gear is situated — gave a first look  at the speed of the system after construction began last year. COVID-19-related factors brought a few challenges, but the fiber-to-the-home network is now operational in the northern part of the town. Earlier, fiber was extended around the community and testing performed.

“This project coming to life will be the next step in advancing the community to be the premier location to call home,” said Willy Walker, mayor, at the ceremony.

Phase one includes an area in the north part of the community. The next area tackled will be the downtown business district and areas around Houston City Hall.

“Elected officials, staff and citizens of the city feel that sometimes it becomes necessary for communities to make things happen, to provide infrastructure or even direct services, and through these actions promote economic development,” Walker said. “Providing broadband is a utility necessity that is no different than water, wastewater or electricity. We should be finding ways to provide opportunities to all segments of our communities no matter who they are, opportunities that we can provide as a team that in turn set the table for new opportunities for the residents — especially in our small rural community in Missouri.”

INTERNET PROJECT

Tim Arbeiter, director of broadband development for the State of Missouri, said the installation of high-speed internet will bring many benefits to the Texas County seat. Arbeiter leads efforts to bring faster internet throughout the state and extend it to areas that don’t have good access. He attended the event last week.

Houston joins city utilities in Kennett, West Plains, Carthage and Marshall, who have brought broadband to their communities.

Randon Brown serves as the director of the project and has an office at the storm shelter. “It has been an incredible experience being able to see former Mayor Don Tottingham’s fiber internet project come to life. It takes a lot of coordination, time, planning and patience for a project of this size to be a success,” he said. “I am confident that the City of Houston will be able to attract new businesses to the area, and for our residents to be able to work and play on an efficient and reliable network that brings the very latest in cutting-edge technology. Blazing fast speed and low prices is what sets us apart from the competition.

Tottingham, who passed away in July 2019, sparked interest in examining whether a municipally owned fast internet system was feasible. The city owns its electrical system, too. In March 2019, the city surveyed residents and businesses about a fiber optic internet project and later commissioned a feasibility study.

Rates range from $30 per month for 25 megabit per second service to $90 for 1 gig service. Business rates start at $75 per month for 50  megabit second speed to $250 for 1 gig. There is a one-time installation fee of $100 and a $3 monthly router rental charge.

City Administrator Scott Avery signaled a demonstration at the event of the speed of the system. Tyler Guynn, a technician for the city, punched in a web address and on a big screen flashed the speed.

Learn more at https://houstonmo.org/fiber or call 417-967-3348.