According to a recent survey by the City of San Antonio’s Office of Innovation, about 1 in 4 San Antonio residents lacks access to broadband internet. For many families across the city, the reality of a digital divide was made painfully obvious with parents working from home and school children participating in remote learning. It was challenging for many families, especially in underserved and low income communities, to have adequate access to high-speed internet.
As the world continues to become more connected and more reliant on high-speed internet access, communities and municipalities need to find creative ways to bridge the gap of the digital divide. One solution is private fiber networks for master-planned communities. New Braunfels-based SouthStar Communities is proud to provide the first gig-speed community in San Antonio!
Gig speed internet service will come with every single family home as standard, allowing them to stream more, game more, and connect better than ever before. VIDA’s solar powered onsite fiber network accommodates up to 10 gigs—the highest speed available in the United States.
“‘We’re proud to play a significant role in addressing the digital divide in the area by installing the highest quality internet infrastructure available,” said Gretchen Howell, senior vice president of development for SouthStar Communities. “The private network allows us to offer a quality connection at a lower price to accommodate students, staff and the broad range of residents we’ll have at VIDA.”
Residents of VIDA, Southstar Communities’ new 600-acre community on the city’s Southside, will experience business-class service to each residence and business located within VIDA, providing better connectivity and a consistent and high quality signal that will not experience the speed or signal lag problems commercial broadband providers experience. The difference is in the technology and the infrastructure.
SouthStar has partnered with Houston-based Centric Fiber, a leading provider of high-speed fiber internet. They use a Micro Fiber technology which has many benefits including, not sharing connection with neighbors or others on the network and the fiber optic cable can be laid and installed with fewer splices, which also slows down standard coaxial cables.
By comparison, typical service in San Antonio by wireless or coaxial cable networking, and even the larger carriers might provide a 1,000 x1,000 Mbps. VIDA’s fiber to home will be a 10,000 x 10,000 Mbps system, increasing the capacity by tenfold from other area providers. Notably, VIDA’s fiber network will be powered by solar pods within the community, protecting access during power outages and decreasing the carbon impacts of infrastructure.
“This is an exciting and innovative way to serve a need in San Antonio. For a developer to think about this at the design phase and this type of quality infrastructure is different,” said Brian Dillard, chief innovation officer for the City of San Antonio. “There is a real need for this type of high-speed connection in San Antonio, particularly on the South Side.”
To further bridge the digital divide, VIDA’s network will be supported by Texas A&M University – San Antonio’s Help Desk, a part of the innovative ‘Connected Beyond the Classroom’ program that provides help desk support. The Connected Beyond the Classroom help desk presently serves over 25,000 students and their families across the city.
“We are excited to collaborate with VIDA and Centric Fiber on a shared vision to support a first-of-its-kind gig speed community in San Antonio. Closing the digital equity gap for our students and our community remains a priority for Texas A&M-San Antonio as we look ahead to the workforce demands of the future,” said President Cynthia Teniente-Matson. “The development of a gig-speed community in South San Antonio is a transformative step in addressing the historical digital disparities for students and residents in our community.”
VIDA, adjacent to Texas A&M – San Antonio and Palo Alto College, is slated to have 4,000 residential units at completion including single-family, apartments, townhomes and student housing. The community will include shops, restaurants and other retail offerings. The first phase of single-family homes will provide gig-speed internet as standard service to each home at a lower price than available in San Antonio.