Fed up with slow and spotty internet, a small Texas town built its own high-speed network
MONT BELVIEU — Becky McManus signed up for internet at her home, and it worked until spring, when leaves bloomed on the trees and blocked her signal.
Across town, Richard LeJeune moved into a new subdivision. His family’s only internet option was a local company with speeds so slow his wife had trouble running her online handmade jewelry store and his daughter sometimes couldn’t do her homework.
For years, residents of this fast-growing town on the outer ring of Houston complained to local leaders about slow and spotty internet. They put satellite dishes on their rooftops. They endured intermittent service and frequent outages.
“I believe squirrels run on a wheel for my internet,” one half-joked on a city survey.
The problem facing Mont Belvieu is one familiar to many towns and rural areas in Texas and around the country. Major internet service providers don’t see a strong enough business case to expand their footprint, upgrade internet speeds or offer any internet service at all.