As ECISD sought to improve internet access for its students during the pandemic, community leaders also saw this need across the county.
ODESSA, Texas – It’s hard to do a lot of things without good high-speed internet access these days. The Ector County ISD saw it firsthand when they switched to a virtual learning environment during the pandemic.
However, when work began to provide this broadband access, community leaders saw that the problem was not limited to ECIDD. It was a problem all over the county.
That’s why several community members, from ECIDD to hospitals, local businesses and city and county, have come together to form the ConnEctor task force with the goal of delivering affordable broadband access. throughout the city and county.
For many in Ector County, either people do not have high speed internet access or it is too expensive.
“There just isn’t infrastructure in our entire county, and this plan really solves those two issues. A lot of these families just don’t have access because they can’t afford it. It’s just too expensive for them, so part of our job is to figure out how to lower the cost of broadband for these families? ”Dr. Scott Muri, ECIDD Superintendent, said declared.
As conversations about internet access began with the school district regarding MiFi and SpaceX, they quickly began to encompass more than the district alone.
“We also recognize that it’s bigger than just a school district. It involves the whole community. So we brought together a community group, city leaders, members of our medical community, our business community, and we all started to create a conversation about the need for broadband, ”said Dr Muri.
Dr Muri believes that high-speed internet access throughout the county will allow Odessa and Ector County to compete with the big cities of Texas.
“We can be a gigabit county providing this high speed broadband service, not just to every family, but to every business that wants to have this level of access. And it will certainly attract even more businesses to our area to develop a strong economy for all citizens of Ector County, ”said Dr. Muri.
A project of this scale wouldn’t be cheap, and the ConnEctor Task Force has three plans, one of which would cost around $ 35 million. This is why the task force is looking to the city and the county for federal funds.
“The total cost of the infrastructure is around $ 35 million, and that investment would be made by you maybe know the city, maybe the county, maybe a philanthropist who might also be interested in investing in the solution, but right now what we have that we have are federal dollars, ”Dr. Muri said.
Dr Muri also believes that once the funds are secured and the first shovelfuls of earth have been thrown, it could take around a year and a half to two years to build the infrastructure and bring the service up and running.