An estimated 877,000 Texans do not need entry to broadband at residence
Austin, Texas (June 22, 2021) – Gov. Greg Abbott final week signed HB 5 and SB 507, together with a number of different broadband-related payments. Every measure establishes new approaches to increasing broadband (high-speed web) entry, adoption, and use throughout Texas.
“Every bit of laws tackles the necessity for higher web entry in numerous methods,” mentioned Jennifer Harris, State Program Director, Related Nation Texas. “Home Invoice 5 appears on the subject in a coordinated approach, establishing a State Broadband Workplace amongst different issues, and Senate Invoice 507 authorizes the Texas Division of Transportation (TxDOT) to create an lodging course of for broadband-only suppliers that want entry to rights-of-way, that means they’ll extra simply construct out to areas with out the infrastructure.”
Beneath present regulation, telecommunications utilities have been capable of entry rights-of-way by means of TxDOT. Nevertheless, broadband-only corporations are usually not thought-about utilities and must enter in and pay a lease to construct infrastructure in these areas.
SB 507 Grants Broadband Suppliers Entry On Rights-of-Method
SB 507 directs TxDOT to undertake guidelines to permit broadband-only suppliers to make use of state rights-of-way in the identical method that different utilities at present take pleasure in.
“The hope is that by lifting that burden it would encourage extra funding from ISPs, particularly in rural, hard-to-reach areas of Texas,” mentioned Harris.
At present, it’s estimated that 877,000 Texans do not need broadband entry at residence; over 88% of these disconnected Texans reside in rural areas, and no less than 316,000 households do not need the minimal connectivity wanted to attend distant courses, go to a health care provider on-line, or work at home.
HB5 Addresses State Broadband Plan
HB 5 is concentrated on this greater image. It directs officers to determine a State Broadband Plan and a State Broadband Workplace, which will likely be overseen by the Comptroller of Public Accounts workplace and a Board of Advisors. It additionally requires the event of an Infrastructure Funding Program and a State Broadband Map.
“Having a coordinated broadband plan is a essential step towards closing the Digital Divide for each Texan,” mentioned Harris. “Texas’ broadband plan ought to embody multi-sector stakeholder engagement, objectives and metrics, and a technique to measure progress. An intensive planning course of will assist the state establish limitations to each broadband deployment and adoption, with the plan itself serving as a mirrored image of this course of.”
Related Nation Texas is the statewide program of nationwide nonprofit Related Nation, which has a mission to search out modern options to increasing broadband entry, adoption, and use to all folks. Be taught extra about Related Nation Texas at connectednation.org/texas.