City officials are pleased to announce Sparklight, a nationally recognized internet provider, will build a state-of-the-art fiber optic network in Victoria that will provide another option for fast and reliable high-speed internet.
The multimillion-dollar investment by Sparklight is one of many avenues the City is considering to improve internet connectivity in Victoria. Last week, civil engineering company CobbFendley launched a survey in partnership with the City to assess broadband needs in Victoria and the surrounding region. Early responses to the survey have indicated a significant desire for more options for internet service in the area.
“Reliable internet service has become a part of our critical infrastructure, and our community has a strong desire to see improvement in this area,” said Mayor-elect Jeff Bauknight.
The results of the CobbFendley survey may be used to shape the network design for Sparklight and other providers, allowing them to offer robust and reliable service in the community and region, which will create more service options for Victoria residents.
Sparklight, which already provides internet for businesses in Victoria, is in the process of designing its new residential network. Following completion of the design, construction will begin in 2022 and is expected to conclude in mid-2023, although some residents could have access sooner.
“Our solid and reliable fiber broadband infrastructure will help Victoria residents stay connected for all of their online needs, whether it be for telemedicine, online education, working from home, shopping or entertainment,” said Chris Boone, Sparklight’s senior vice president of Business Services and Emerging Markets. “Our multimillion-dollar investment in this network will support the bandwidth needs of the Victoria community, now and in the future.”
The Victoria Broadband Commission: An intentional internet strategy
This development is a result of outreach efforts by the Victoria Broadband Commission, a City-led stakeholder group that includes representatives from the government, medical, education and business sectors. The commission’s goal is to improve internet quality and market competition in Victoria by using creative solutions to attract multiple developers that can offer reliable, accessible and affordable internet.
In December, the Victoria Broadband Commission published a request for proposals to improve internet service in Victoria. The City received numerous responses, some of which are still being evaluated as additional opportunities.
“We are grateful to the Victoria Broadband Commission and Assistant City Manager Darrek Ferrell for spearheading this effort to call attention to the digital divide that exists in Victoria,” said City Manager Jesús A. Garza. “Our staff is continuing conversations with Sparklight and looking at other opportunities we hope will enhance livability in our community.”
City connects with Sparklight
The Victoria Broadband Commission pursued Sparklight’s proposal for many reasons. Sparklight uses high-speed fiber-to-the-home technology that exceeds broadband standards, with up to one-gigabit symmetrical upload/download speeds for residential customers and five-gigabit symmetrical upload/download speeds for commercial customers. Sparklight has received high accolades as an internet service provider, including a fourth-best ISP ranking in the August 2021 edition of Consumer Reports. PC Magazine listed the company as the third-fastest major ISP in the nation and the fifth-fastest provider in the south-central region of the U.S.
The proposals that were submitted ranged from network planning and feasibility to the construction of a city-owned broadband network, and each came with a variety of associated costs. Sparklight’s proposal more closely reflected a traditional business recruitment strategy, in which a company is incentivized to bring jobs and services to a community. The City and Sparklight have been working to finalize an incentive agreement for the development of infrastructure and the creation of local jobs serving the needs of Victoria and the surrounding region.
“We look forward to working with community partners to hire local talent in the Golden Crescent region,” Boone said.
The expansion of Sparklight in Victoria is expected to create about 30 permanent jobs and more than 100 temporary construction jobs. Additionally, the company will make a multimillion-dollar investment in the community and surrounding areas through the construction of its state-of-the-art network.
Sparklight is part of the Cable One family of brands, which serves more than 1.1 million residential and business customers in 24 states. Sparklight provides consumers with a wide array of connectivity and entertainment services, including high-speed internet and advanced Wi-Fi solutions, cable television and phone service. More information about Sparklight can be found at www.sparklight.com.
Stay connected with City broadband efforts
To learn more about the Victoria Broadband Commission and to take CobbFendley’s survey on broadband access, visit www.victoriatx.gov/broadband. Responses will be accepted until 5 p.m. July 28. The survey results will be made available to Sparklight and other internet service providers as they design their networks.
The City and CobbFendley will host a public workshop at 5 p.m. July 21 at the Victoria Community Center, 2905 E. North St., to discuss survey responses and provide more information.