High-speed broadband at a stand-still

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Big Bend Telephone Company’s installation of new fiber optic cable for high-speed broadband in Fort Stockton has been delayed about a year. That delay is because of a "back up" in Texas-New Mexico Power engineering services required to enable another company to hang cable on TNMP poles.

The “back up” is largely due to the demand for TNMP engineering services related to new oil-and-gas sites.

TNMP has, for a long time, been notorious for slow engineering response. This is deleterious to the economic development and quality of life for the communities, in which TNMP owns the overhead infrastructure. Local TNMP offices themselves (as well as existing local internet providers) would benefit from new cabling for high-speed broadband, but months-long engineering delays within their own company are preventing them from accessing that critical service.

Beyond convenience, competition, reliability and efficiency, the throttling of new internet services has critical consequences, such as when oil-and-gas excavations cut existing underground cables that supply internet to hospitals, schools and prisons. There have been several unforeseen service interruptions in west Texas recently.

TNMP’s priorities should be for the communities in which it has been granted the monopoly on overhead infrastructure for which electricity customers pay. Yet another fracking “boom” is no excuse for preventing the residents and institutions of Fort Stockton, the gateway to west Texas, from being able to obtain an improved source of high-speed broadband internet.

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