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Comcast goes live with $1.4M high-speed network in Northwest Houston

Comcast just hooked up Waller County with better internet service. Photo courtesy of Comcast

Comcast just flipped the switch on its high-speed broadband internet service in Waller County.

The company says the $1.4 million network brings internet speeds up to 1.2 gigabits per second to homes and up to 100 gigabits per second to businesses.

In tandem with establishment of the high-speed network, Comcast gave $35,000 in grants to two organizations ($25,000 to United Way of Greater Houston – Waller County and $10,000 to Waller County Assistance and Restoration Ministries) to “help close the digital divide in Waller.” It’s also donating 150 free laptops to Waller ISD students.

“Having an equal opportunity to connect to the power of the internet opens doors for the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, storytellers, and creators,” says Misha McClure, director of external affairs at Comcast.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 21 percent of Waller households lacked access to broadband internet as of 2000, compared with 15 percent across the state and nearly 16 percent in the city of Houston.

To build the network in Waller, Comcast installed about 52 miles of infrastructure. The network is now available to nearly 600 households and more than 200 businesses. Certain low-income households are eligible for free internet service.

“Our investments ensure that … Waller residents and business owners will not only have access to the fastest and most reliable network, but now have a network that will be sustained for decades to come without any financial burden to the community,” says Mitch Danklef, senior director of business development at Comcast.

Aside from the Waller installation, Comcast is investing more than $4M to build a high-speed network in Prairie View. Construction is scheduled to be finished later this year.

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Building Houston

 
 

Asma Mirza joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to explain how a pandemic pivot turned into a global health opportunity. Photo courtesy

In the span of a couple years, a Houston startup went from innovating a way for patients with degenerative eye diseases to see better to creating a portable and affordable breath-based diagnostics tool worthy of a prestigious grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

Steradian Technologies, founded in 2018, set out to create human super-sight via proprietary optics. In early 2020, the company was getting ready to start testing the device and fundraising. Then, the pandemic hit, knocking the company completely off course.

Co-founder and CEO of the company, Asma Mirza, says on this week's Houston Innovators Podcast that the Steradian co-founders discussed how their optic technology could detect diseases. Something just clicked, and the RUMI device was born.

"We are from Houston, Texas, which is one of the most diverse and accessible cities in the country, and we were having trouble with basic diagnostic accessibility. It was taking too long, it was complicated, and people were getting sick and didn't know if they were positive or negative," Mirza says on the show. "That's when we pivoted the company and decided we were going to pivot the company and use optics to detect diseases in breath."

Fast forward two years and the company has been recognized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with a grant to sport the development of the tool — which costs about the same price as a latte to make. The impact for global health is huge, Mirza says, allowing for people to test their breath for diseases from their own homes in the same time it takes to take your temperature.

"You blow into a cartrige and we're able to take the air from your breath into a liquid sample," Mirza says, explaining how the device uses photons to produce quick results. "It's wild that we still don't have something like that yet."

She shares more details about the grant and the future applications for the technology — as well as the role Houston and local organizations have had on the company — on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


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