San Augustine Co. officials working to improve Internet connectivity

SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Most people rely on Internet and Wi-Fi connections every day. When you don't have it, you're inconvenienced.

Just ask the businesses and residents of San Augustine County. The county's leadership is working to end the hit and miss connection with the rest of the world.

County Judge Samye Johnson showed off San Augustine County's website design. However, the trouble is that the majority of the county's residents can't easily access it from home or work. Connected Texas, a State Department of Agriculture initiative, confirms the county's broadband accessibility is for the most part non-existent.

"And that's our big concern. And we've been working on this for two years," Johnson said. "It's been important for our economic growth, but it's important to the citizens of county as well."

People needing and wanting a fast Internet connection occupy the public library's computer stations. It's one place where users can usually count on a signal.

Improving the communication capabilities here in San Augustine County is a work in progress. For instance, Wi-Fi is available here on the square, but venture south to the lake and the signal goes away.

This worries Sandy Jenkins. She's the project manager for the technology action plan, and her game warden husband works in those dead zones.

"There is no communication whatsoever," Jenkins said. "There are times that he has no radio, no cell phone, and they're out there on their own, so for law enforcement it's a detriment that we're way out here with no communication."

Jenkins and Johnson now have a wealth of data accurately pinpointing remaining gaps in broadband availability. They're also armed with a step by step action plan.

"They gave us some names of where we need to apply for grants to help us build out broadband into the community," Johnson said. "We're expanding wireless hot spots throughout the community. We're identifying maps of where people are."

And as the signals reach out, Internet safety courses will be offered, as well as Internet and social media use for businesses. Connected Texas is working statewide for the deployment and adoption of broadband. San Augustine County is one among 10 counties involved in the program. It's the first to reach this level of participation.

Copyright 2013 KTRE. All rights reserved.