Fort Bend County aims to connect thousands to high-speed internet

Fort Bend County is moving ahead with a plan to extend broadband internet service to areas that do not, yet have it. It's a form of "If you build it, they will come" logic.

With more than 60% of the county unincorporated, largely undeveloped, and often underserved when trying to connect to the digital world, county leadership thinks it's critical to its growth, to change that.

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Rodney Grimmet works for the county's Emergency Management Office, lives in a home that's about 15 years old, and is stuck with an internet that struggles to keep up with demand. 

"It's great to have it up and working," he says, "When it goes down, you never know how you're going to communicate, who you're going to talk to, and there are a lot of areas in the county that still don't have that connectivity."

Fort Bend County Judge KP George says the challenge of connecting people in the county will only grow. 

"We are going to have a million people by the beginning of 2026, so we are growing exponentially," he said. 


After a study showed 180,000 homes in the county are unserved, or underserved, by broadband connections, commissioners voted to find partners to fix the problem. 

In addition to seeking a grant from the federal government's $45 billion Internet For All initiative, the county will begin looking for internet providers who can help build the infrastructure that could connect the county's growing population. 

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Seen as a necessary utility, like water and electricity, Judge George says high-speed connections will be critical to properly serving residents and building the county's economic development. 

"In order to invite quality companies, we have to have this kind of infrastructure in our county," he said. "We are a committed as a county, we are a hundred percent committed because economic development is a top priority."

There is no estimate of how much it might cost to build out all that internet capability. It's easier in new development, where they're starting from scratch, and more challenging when trying to build around existing homes. 

Either way, the county has set an aggressive timeline to get a lot of it done in the next two years.