The Lone Star State is full of wide open spaces – great for cattle, but often problematic for broadband access. Texas is one of only six states without a plan for broadband development, according to ReformAustin.org, but that is all about to change. The Texas Legislature has received a report from The Governor’s Broadband Development Council (GBDC) recommending the creation of a state broadband plan and administering broadband office.
“The issue of broadband connectivity in the state’s rural and unserved areas is vital to economic development, education, health care, and safety in Texas,” the council’s report noted.
The report found that approximately 90 percent of the state’s rural residents do not have home broadband access. The number of unserved or underserved Texans is roughly 927,000, leaving these people in danger of missing out on opportunities available to more urban residents.
When the next legislative session begins in January, lawmakers are expected to review broadband access, and the regulatory and economic factors that affect the successful delivery of broadband services. Approaching broadband outreach from a statewide level will allow better coordination of resources for connectivity across rural areas according to the GDBC. Other factors including infrastructure, financing, and affordable access will also come under scrutiny.
“In 2020, the novel coronavirus [COVID-19] pandemic has highlighted issues regarding broadband internet in many ways, and now more than ever it is apparent that broadband connectivity is a critical issue for the rural and unserved areas of our state,” the GDBC report stated.