FCC gave this company $281 million to expand high-speed internet to rural areas

A Parker County company is expanding high-speed internet to rural areas.
A Parker County company is expanding high-speed internet to rural areas. McClatchy

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the company plans to provide high-speed wireless internet service.

A Parker County company will bring high-tech jobs and high-speed wireless internet to rural areas in six states.

Nextlink, based in Hudson Oaks, announced this week that the company received $281 million from the Federal Communications Commission to bring high-speed wireless internet to rural areas in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois.

The $281 million is the largest award under the FCC’s $1.98 billion Connect America Fund, which was established to close the digital divide in rural America.

“The United States is moving to a digital economy,” said Bill Baker, co-founder and CEO of Nextlink.

“So many are working from home now. If you don’t have stable, reliable and fast internet, it becomes a challenge. Things become limited in terms of remote employment,” he said.

People living in smaller communities or rural areas often have DSL internet provided by their phone companies with download speeds of 10 megabytes a second, and the service often becomes congested in the evenings and speeds can slow. The wireless internet will have speeds of approximately 100 MB, he said.

“We get calls from someone who bought a house and signed up with their cable TV company for internet. They realize that they are not in downtown Dallas anymore,” he said.

“People are begging us to come in to their communities. Having high speed internet service is very impactful to the businesses and residential customers. People are working at home on their laptops. They have jobs in a larger city. They have to have quality internet to log in and do work from home,” he said.

Baker said he is submitting the final paperwork to the government and hopes to start rolling out the high-speed internet in 2019.

Since Nextlink was founded in 2012, it has grown to 200 employees, and built a 22,000 square foot headquarters in Hudson Oaks. The company also formed a partnership with the city to provide fiber internet.

Baker said his company will also bring high-tech jobs to the rural areas. He estimated that the company will grow to approximately 1,000 employees.

Elizabeth Campbell: 817-390-7696, @fwstliz