Getting Connected with Lake Limestone

Lake Limestone view

Thanks to a near-complete Brazos River Authority Information Technology project, dial tones and choppy audio around Lake Limestone are becoming things of the past.

In a time where virtual communication is at the forefront, the Brazos River Authority is ensuring that Lake Limestone and its surrounding areas can effectively contact each other. For decades, the Lake Limestone office had previously used T1 lines over aged copper cabling for both internet and phone lines. The network’s transfer rate was maxed out at 6Mbps, or megabits per second, making dependable network audio and video communications impossible.

The existing T1 connections are also sensitive to issues during storms and high winds, which is a critical period for the Brazos River Authority as staff work diligently to monitor streamflow into Lake Limestone and make release changes at the Sterling C. Robertson dam to accommodate a full reservoir. During inclement weather, the connection would either go down or become too slow. To combine that with the increased need for virtual communication, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, a solution was needed.

To avoid any further impacts on Lake Limestone’s internal and external communications, the Lake Limestone Fiber Optic Cable Upgrade Project was set in motion and was authorized at the May 2021 Board of Directors meeting.

The project’s main objective is to upgrade the communication lines to the Lake Limestone Office to fiber optic cable. According to Verizon, fiber optics is the technology used to transmit information as pulses of light through strands of fiber made of glass or plastic over long distances. Because of this, they’re capable of transmitting more data at a faster speed and over longer distances.

By installing 14 miles of fiber optic cables to the Lake Limestone office, the network’s bandwidth will increase, resulting in more reliable service for Lake Limestone’s daily operations. The data transfer rate will jump from 6Mbps to about 100Mbps. If the transfer rate needs to be increased, the fiber optic cable system will allow the BRA to adjust as needed.

Due to the area’s limited number of internet providers, the BRA executed a Special Construction Agreement (SCA) with AT&T, utilizing a Texas Department of Information Resources contract. AT&T acts as the project manager and works with the local carrier, Windstream.

Under the SCA, AT&T, using the Windstream company and its contractors, installed fourteen miles of fiber optic cable from the nearest connection point in Marquez to the Lake Limestone Office. Windstream has the contractors to do the trenching, digging, and laying of the fiber optic cables. There are also permits required by the Texas Department of Transportation to lay the cables.

Lake Limestone view

After permitting delays and inclement weather, the estimated completion date for the lines buried below the ground will be this summer.  While this project is underway, the BRA is temporarily utilizing a wireless broadband service to get greater speed until the project is complete.

The completion date of this project comes just in time before Texas’ late spring and early summer when the state’s weather is infamously unpredictable and can become severe quickly. This upgrade will substantially improve the data transfer rate and increase the reliability of Lake Limestone’s communication with the Central Office to coordinate reservoir releases and communication with the public.

Lake Limestone view

But this project will benefit more than BRA’s operations—it will increase the network speed for residents of the surrounding areas as well.

By installing the infrastructure for fiber optics, local wireless broadband providers will be able to branch out and utilize the pre-existing infrastructure, increasing the network speed for their customers in the area.

Lake Limestone staff is eager to continue serving all those who live and visit Lake Limestone with even stronger connections—both in virtual and in-person environments.

To learn more about the project, visit our Project Update webpage here