The COVID-19 pandemic has increasingly brought to light the prominent issues surrounding the absence of reliable internet service within rural and low-income areas. Many Texans are facing untrustworthy service, as over 88% of Texans live in rural areas with limited working Internet access. Even in urban centers, it can be difficult for Texans to navigate the options to receive the best service. These Internet restrictions have detrimental effects on Texan’s capability to communicate, learn, and work efficiently, especially within the technology-centered world we live in today.
House Bill 5 by state Representative Trent Ashby, a legislative emergency item named by Governor Abbott in February, addresses the expansion of broadband services statewide. The bill expands the Governor’s Broadband Development Council that is responsible for researching the development, deployment, and purchase of broadband services. The council will identify, address, and find solutions for the barriers in deploying residential and commercial broadband in unserved areas, as well as analyze the benefits of statewide access to broadband.
The broadband development office, as established in House Bill 5, will prepare, update, and publish a statewide broadband plan that provides long-term goals for greater access, adoption, and affordability of broadband services within Texas.
The passage of this bill is a major step forward for the Lone Star State as we look to continue our role as the nation’s economic engine. With more access to high-speed internet, the doors of opportunity will be blown open for Texans of all backgrounds. Education. Health Care. Jobs. Entertainment. What the cotton gin did for the Industrial Revolution, House Bill 5 will do for the Technological Revolution that is already underway.
The bill now heads to the Texas Senate where it will continue in the legislative process.