BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The city of Brownsville officially signed an agreement with partners to bring affordable and accessible broadband to the city during a signing ceremony at the city commission chambers.

The partnership includes the city of Brownsville, Lit Communities, and the Brownsville Public Utilities Board.

“The city of Brownsville realized that we no longer wanted to be on the least connected communities in the U.S. list and wanted to put ourselves on one of the other list, which is one of the most connected communities,” said Mayor Trey Mendez.

Mendez said the broadband initiative is becoming a reality after two and a half years of work.

“Today we were able to sign an agreement where the city’s investing almost $20 million and our third-party partner, Lit Communities, is investing $70 million to build a city-wide broadband fiber network,” he said.

Mendez said the city’s $20 million investment is from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

“Now you can have telehealth at home, you can choose your different smart home providers, we’re also going to have smart city applications that are going to be provided,” said Lit Communities and BTX Fiber’s CEO Brian Snider.

Snider explained the project will bring opportunities for new business and job creation.

Rene Gonzalez, a Brownsville native, and the chief strategy officer for Lit Communities said he is proud to work on a project that is helping his hometown advance.

“We want to be able to bring the same technology here to the residents of Brownsville. Especially in the pandemic, it taught everybody how many students are connected at the same time, remote workers, even home-based businesses that really were at the crux of this whole issue,” said Gonzalez.

He said the service can be free for qualified candidates through the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides a $30 credit towards broadband service.

Prices range on speed tiers that can go up to 1 Gig at the maximum rate of $100 per month, according to Gonzalez.

“We know the power that fiber has and bringing that into the home is going to be a tremendous benefit for the citizens, for the residents, for the business, and obviously for the city itself as a government,” he said.

The first phase of the project is scheduled to be complete in about 18 to 24 months, according to Mendez.

For more information on the broadband project, you can visit the BTX Fiber website.