PHARR, Texas – The City of Pharr’s blazing speed broadband service is being expanded into San Juan and Alamo thanks to a partnership with PSJA ISD.
Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez announced the news during his 2023 State of the City Address.
“So, what is in store for Pharr this year? Well, just you wait. We recently decided to collaborate on eliminating the digital divide for the entire PSJA geographical area, which encompasses the great cities of San Juan and Alamo,” said Hernandez, to applause from 900-plus attendees.
“So, please help me in thanking the PSJA School Board for their bold and innovative approach for their students and our communities.”
Hernandez then asked the PSJA school board of trustees to stand and be recognized.
“This first-of-a-kind partnership should serve as a prime example on how we can work together for the betterment of our communities. Specifically, the Tri-City geographical area of PSJA ISD. We look forward to what fruits this will bear.”
Hernandez started his address with an update on his city’s much-vaunted high speed internet service. He said:
“As your mayor, I am proud to report that we continue to grow, progress and thrive. The State of the City of Pharr is strong and vibrant as ever. And what is contributing to this success of our city? It’s all about connecting. Connecting people, connecting partnerships and connecting our citizens to the world.”
Hernandez said Pharr made broadband a priority before it became fashionable.
“The city of Pharr made it a priority; a priority to bridge the digital divide before it was the talk of the town,” he said.
Hernandez pointed out that bridging the digital divide became a nationwide priority, especially during the COVID 19 pandemic.
“Reliable internet service went from being a luxury to an absolute necessity, a priority. Without it, many families lacked the ability to connect to schools, to their jobs, even looking for medical assistance, and for employment opportunities.”
Hernandez said Pharr came up with an “innovative solution.” He explained: “Pharr is offering affordable broadband internet access to all businesses and families. Now, thanks to the amazing work of our IT department, TeamPharr.net and its partners are actively installing fiber optic cable throughout the city. Even as we sit here today, they’re doing it. And we are proud to share that the TeamPharr.net project is at 72% completion, citywide.”
There was more applause from the audience.
“And we’re 100% complete in south Pharr, which was the most disconnected area in the nation,” Hernandez said, to more applause. “Every family now has the ability to connect and become part of the TeamPharr.net network.”
With supply chain disruptions, critical components for installing fiber optic cable have become scarce, the mayor explained. However, he said, Pharr made sure it had all the equipment in place for its big project.
“Even in today’s limited supply chain environment, the City of Pharr was able to expedite the shipments of critical commodities. These are now rare commodities like conduit and fiber optic cable. These were expedited and received within 30 days and that has led to 85% of all our project material being in Pharr and 80 percent of that conduit is now in the ground as we speak,” Hernandez said, to more applause.
“Many projects across the United States are taking an average of about six months to a year to receive these materials and equipment. But get this, 695 miles of fiber is currently in the ground throughout the entire city of Pharr, right now.”
“So what other city in the state can say they have accomplished that feat so far? None. That’s the great work that TeamPharr.net does, great execution. Now, TeamPharr.net will not only narrowing the digital divide, it will absolutely eliminate it once and for in Pharr,” Hernandez said.
“This has been one of my administration’s top priorities, even before that pandemic highlighted the digital needs of our communities.”
Hernandez said Pharr is at a “critical digital turning point” and having high speed internet will help “drive current major city projects and overall quality of life,” he said.
“As we lead ourselves into the 21st Century, our fiber optic network will lead our team to exploring Smart City platforms, digital sustainability mechanisms, and educational partnerships that will go beyond the traditional pathways,” Hernandez predicted.
“TeamPharr.net is taking our community beyond connectivity. This is essentially the development of a brand new information infrastructure superhighway system connecting Pharr to the world. But with one unique difference. One big difference here: blazing speed and affordability for all.”
There was more applause.
Hernandez said other cities now want to follow in Pharr’s footsteps.
“We’re excited to be pioneering this innovative project, which continues to serve as a model for other communities across our home state of Texas, and now, indeed, the nation,” Hernandez said.
“Sharing our efforts has allowed us to wow other cities and organizations, as they realize that Pharr is light years ahead, not only in the state of Texas, but across the nation. So I’m very proud of you, TeamPharr, for the execution and commitment you’ve shown.”
Hernandez then played a video showing state Sen. Juan Hinojosa endorsing Pharr’s fiber optic broadband project. Hinojosa said Hernandez has been a leader who has made a difference in the quality of life for the citizens of Pharr.
“We found out during the pandemic that broadband was such a key factor and needed – not a luxury but a necessity to be able to perform (everything) from long distance learning to our telemedicine and also dealing with our business community,” Hinojosa said.
“He took the lead in creating a template for the rest of the state by extending and investing in infrastructure needed to establish broadband for our families here in the city of Pharr.”
Hinojosa said Hernandez continues to be a leader.
“He is well-known not only here in the Rio Grande Valley but throughout the state of Texas as being innovative, having ideas, and willing to push for the betterment and the quality of life of the citizens of Pharr,” Hinojosa added.
Hernandez, in turn, thanked Hinojosa for being “a champion and advocate for the residents of Pharr.” He also thanked businessman Alonzo Cantu. Like Hinojosa, Cantu was in the audience. Hernandez asked him to stand and be recognized.
Hernandez said Cantu, who, like Hinojosa, was in the audience, has been named to a statewide committee that will help Texas become fully wired.
“The entire state of Texas will now be digitized,” Hernandez said. “He (Cantu) was placed on a committee that will help the entire state of Texas. The entire state of Texas will now be digitized and they (the committee) are responsible. He (Cantu) is on that committee so it’s a very important for the state and for our region, for (both) a template of broadband throughout the state and more accessibility. So I want to thank you sir for your service, on behalf of the City of Pharr and the state of Texas.”
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