GVEC has received the Community Broadband Project of the Year Award from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors. Founded in 1980, NATOA is a widely respected professional association providing advocacy in the telecommunications industry to cities, towns, counties, commissions, nonprofits and other entities. This organization has developed itself into one of the industry’s most respected voices, including among U.S. legislators and the FCC.
The Broadband Project of the Year Award is part of NATOA’s annual Community Broadband and Digital Awards series. These awards recognize innovative programs in government, business and local communities across the U.S.
GVEC General Manager and CEO Darren Schauer explained that GVEC won the award for its work with local school districts through the FCC’s E-rate program and for its work in delivering cutting-edge fiber internet to small towns like Marion and Shiner.
The cooperative won its first E-rate contract in 2017, partnering with Stockdale ISD to upgrade the district’s 50 Mbps DSL service to a 500 Mbps GVEC Fiber connection. That project went live in May 2018 and has been a huge success for the district. Earlier this year, GVEC signed its second E-rate contract, this one with Moulton ISD. Construction on that project has already begun, with service expected to begin in January 2020.
Because GVEC does not serve electricity within the city limits of Shiner, their 2018 agreement with the city marked a fiber milestone for the Cooperative. GVEC completed fiber passings to 1,200 Shiner homes and businesses last year, transforming the area into a “Gigabit City,” meaning internet speeds of up to 1 Gbps are now available citywide. GVEC helped transform Marion into a Gigabit City in 2018, building out nearly 600 passings in the area.
“These projects and many others like them,” Schauer said, “confirm GVEC’s ongoing commitment to delivering high-speed fiber internet to rural areas who may otherwise have no other service options. Rural broadband access is currently in a place similar to rural electricity access in 1938, when GVEC was founded by a group of local farmers to deliver affordable electricity to the region. Back then, large, investor owned electric companies weren’t interested in building service to sparsely populated areas they considered unprofitable. Now, as then, GVEC is taking the initiative to deliver an essential service to rural areas that big companies often overlook in the drive toward increasing the bottom line.”
Although he’s pleased with NATOA’s recognition, Schauer stressed that much work remains in the push to deliver affordable, high-speed GVEC Fiber to underserved rural areas. “An award like this tells us we’re doing something right,” he said. “It gives us even greater confidence in our plans for the future—plans that include bringing Guadalupe Valley residents access to the same high-speed internet as people in the city.”