|Apr 12, 2013 --
Encompassing nearly 265,000 square miles, Texas is the second largest state in the country. While many Americans are familiar with Texas cities like Dallas, Austin, or Houston, the state has immense rural areas as well: Rural areas that help produce the food staples that end up on the dinner tables of families across the country. With miles between customers measuring higher than population density and potential profits, many large companies have overlooked the need to provide telecommunications services to keep rural residents in Texas connected. Serving remote areas of Northern Texas and Southern Oklahoma, Santa Rosa Telephone Cooperative (SRTC) has been connecting its Cooperative customers to the rest of the world for nearly a century, bringing educational opportunity, business connectivity, and telemedicine to the area.
How Rural Development Helped:
To take on the daunting task of creating and maintaining its service network, Santa Rosa Telephone has worked very closely with Rural Development. They have received five Infrastructure Loans from the Telecommunications Program over the years. With the help of these infrastructure loans, Santa Rosa Telephone has been constructing a Fiber to the Node and Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network in Texas and Oklahoma since 1998. The loans have enabled Santa Rosa to connect over 6,800 subscribers to their network.
The FTTH network has benefitted many rural residents and businesses in Santa Rosa Telephone’s service area. In addition to allowing residents to telecommute to college or jobs in other areas, the network has saved local jobs. One example is Mahard Egg Farms in Odell, TX. Thanks to Santa Rosa Telephone’s high speed Internet at their remote location, their 1.3 million chickens can be fed and production can be monitored virtually from out of state. That access keeps the farm operational in the Santa Rosa exchange and keeps jobs in the area. And, without Santa Rosa connectivity, other local merchants, such as the convenience store in Aspermont, would be unable to process credit cards, severely limiting their ability to appeal to locals and those traveling through the region. The ability to serve travelers is critical to building, among other things, hunting tourism in the area. Furthermore, the network has been a great help to farmers looking to take advantage of wind power. Wind Turbine Farms in Texas are able to monitor their networks with the use of Broadband and Special Circuits through SRTC’s network.
Connectivity also contributes to science and culture. The 3 Rivers Foundation for the Arts and Sciences in Crowell, TX has an observatory called Comanche Springs Observatory and because of fiber connectivity allowing for faster broadband they are able to share photos of space with other observatories around the world. They are also able to connect the smaller telescopes and learning equipment for star gazing; an opportunity taken advantage of by several local communities and schools. Santa Rosa Telephone’s fiber network has made this resource more accessible to people in the community and around the world.
Additionally, SRTC provided three rural hospitals with faster internet to allow them to transmit their X-Rays electronically, while also allowing them the ability to upload and email patient data to referred doctors and hospitals. This has been a vital service for the area and has helped provide much needed and more efficient medical care.
Individual members of the surrounding community have taken full advantage of the faster broadband speeds as well. A family in Rochester, TX were able to home school their children on the new network, where before it was not possible. There is also a little boy in Knox City, TX who is very ill who has benefitted from broadband. Because of his illness, he is unable to attend school in person and has a robot attend for him, delivering video feed of the classroom to him remotely. The DSL at his home and at the school are part of Santa Rosa Telephone’s network and allow him to continue receiving an education in spite of his illness.
Santa Rosa Telephone’s network not only enhances quality of life in the region; it enables residents to learn, take part in the global economy, receive critical health care, and so much more while living amongst those thousands of rural miles.
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