Williamson County Commissioners Court approved an $8 million contract Feb. 13 with Bryner Communications Services LLC for fiber-optic expansion in the county.

The expansion project is expected to heighten coordination between emergency response agencies, such as the 911 call center, law enforcement and emergency medical services.

The overview

Establishing a high-speed fiber-optic network across the county supports real-time data sharing, allowing the appropriate first responders to arrive quicker and have the latest info they need to address the emergency, according to county documents.

The expansion project adds to previous county initiatives for bettering response time. For example, the county currently funds the Unify program. The Unify system links different public safety agencies, via 911 dispatch calls, allowing them to talk to each other through a data-sharing network.

Installing a robust fiber network will also enhance government operations and improve county infrastructure. By installing fiber now, Williamson County can better accommodate future increases in data usage and minimize the need for costly upgrades, ensuring long-term sustainability, according to county documents.

Funding for the fiber project comes from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, fund. The county has received a total of $11.4 million in ARPA funding over the years, using it for various county projects to address the community’s greatest needs, such as mental health services and water infrastructure.

Looking ahead

Upon approval of the contract, the design and permitting phase will begin shortly. The contract provides a general timeline, indicating that September is the earliest construction could begin and is expected to span roughly 20 months.

County staff anticipates the project's completion by the end of 2026.

The fiber installation, connecting county buildings and partner agencies, will run along existing right of way and is not planned to cross any private property.

The scope of work entails the installation of 144 strands of fiber-optic cable to 19 locations, utilizing both aerial and underground methods. All buried lines will be clearly marked with signage indicating "call before you dig" or "buried fiber-optic cable" to prevent accidental damage.