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Broadband plans takes shape in East Texas towns


A series of meetings this month in East Texas will mark formal steps to draft a county-by-county broadband plan for the region.

The East Texas Regional Broadband Initiative is a 14-county project led by the East Texas Council of Governments or ETCOG alongside the consultancy of Connected Texas, which aims to advance technology in rural Texas.

Ron Turner, Connected Texas’ community technology adviser, says he plans to hold meetings in all 14 counties to develop tailored plans for broadband connectivity.

“What we’re going to do is to show a vision of a rural renaissance of what East Texas can look like with a broadband infrastructure, both in terms of quality of life and economic prosperity,” Dallas-based Turner said.

ETCOG’s research manager Nanette Stephens says there are parts of East Texas that don’t have internet access or are underserved with few options. Before investing in fiber optic cable and towers, according to Stephens, it’s important to understand the broadband situation of each county and get face-to-face input from residents and businesses.

“Providers can go out there and place something, but is that really what that is needed? We need the input from the community as a whole,” Stephens said.

Stephens says it could take up to a year to draft individual county plans and fold that into a regional broadband vision. She says grants and other funding to carry out each plan will be tackled in the next phase.

Broadband meeting schedule:


May 6, 2014

9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.  

Tyler Workforce Center

4100 Troup Hwy.

Tyler, Texas


May 7, 2014

9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

2000 S. Loop 256 (Palestine Mall), Suite 18

Palestine, Texas


May 8, 2014

9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Longview Workforce Center

2430 S. High St. Suite A-1

Longview, Texas


May 12, 2014

9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Sulphur Springs Public Library

611 Davis St. North

Sulphur Springs, Texas


May 12, 2014

1:30 - 3:30 p.m.

Paris Junior College

McLemore Student Center

2400 Clarksville, Room 219

Paris, Texas


May 13, 2014

9 – 11 a.m.

Mt. Pleasant Public Library

601 N. Madison

Mt. Pleasant, Texas


May 13, 2014

1:30 - 3:30 p.m.

Ark-Tex Council of Governments

4808 Elizabeth

Texarkana, Texas

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.