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Internet upgrades could be on the way for Hendry Co.

Unanimous commissioner vote kickstarts the rollout of Streamline Internet, aiming for improved connectivity in the rural county
Posted at 6:47 PM, Apr 24, 2024

LABELLE, Fla. — Most people will tell you, the internet connection in Hendry County can be frustratingly slow. But, there’s a solution on the horizon - the county has an agreement with a new provider to start rolling out faster internet soon.

Because nearly everything in our lives is connected to the internet, having a good connection is crucial.

It’s something the owner of Bridge Street Coffee & Tea Company, Charlie Harris, says is vital for his business.

“It’s your watch, it’s your phone, it’s your tablet - some form of digital something that you need to have access to, to take advantage of whatever footfall walks through the door. To do that, to keep up with that, you need to have internet you can rely on and that’s fast,” said Harris.

Owner of Bridge Street Coffee & Tea Company, Charlie Harris, in front of a POS system.
Owner of Bridge Street Coffee & Tea Company, Charlie Harris, in front of a POS system.

Harris tells me he’s one of the lucky ones in Downtown LaBelle - his connection is good. But, most people struggle, and he says they come to him for advice.

“We have a lot of new people find us when they move to town, and that’s one of the common questions we get asked - ‘Who do you use for internet? Who would you recommend for internet?’, said Harris. “Then, it turns into, “Where are you living? How far outside town are you?”.

However, that last question could go away. In a meeting on Tuesday, commissioners voted 5-0 to allow the internet provider, Streamline, to start their rollout process.

“We authorized our county attorney to go forward with the agreement to allow Streamline to use our current tower at the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) to kind of expedite that process,” said Hendry County Commissioner, Ramon Iglesias.

Aerial view of the cell tower at the Emergency Operations Center in LaBelle.
Aerial view of the cell tower at the Emergency Operations Center in LaBelle.

Iglesias explained that the Covid-19 pandemic was a catalyst in this decision.

“When covid hit, it was really detrimental to the students in our community. So, as students were having to stay home and parents were having to work from home - internet became more of a need.”

Lou Elliott, CEO of Streamline, said his company will build six new towers.

“Five out of those six towers will be carrier grade, and we are already trying to speak with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon to lease space to them on those towers,” said Elliott.

Streamline Internet CEO, Lou Elliott.
Streamline Internet CEO, Lou Elliott.

Elliott said this product is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFR0125 awarded to the State of Florida by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Elliott said he expects to have service running from the tower at the EOC by the middle of June.