Broadband Development Office Seeks To Expand Broadband In Texas
Expanding rural broadband was a big topic during the past Texas Legislative Session and on Monday Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced the creation of the Broadband Development Office which will seek to expand broadband across the state of Texas.
The Broadband Development Office will reportedly award grants and low interest loans along with other financial incentives to internet service providers who expand access to broadband service in rural and underserved areas.
Greg Conte, who has worked at the Texas Comptroller's office for five years will serve as the first Broadband Development Office Director.
In a press release, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said access to secure internet is increasingly important.
“Easy, secure internet access is increasingly important in our society, and it was essential during the pandemic. So, I am grateful that lawmakers made the expansion of broadband access across Texas a priority through the creation of the Broadband Development Office at my agency,” Hegar said.
In addition to awarding grants, low interest loans, and offering incentives, the Broadband Development Office will do five things established by House Bill 5 during the Texas Legislative Session.
- create a broadband map indicating areas eligible for financial assistance;
- set an effective threshold speed for broadband service in those underserved areas at 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload;
- create and update a state broadband plan;
- engage in outreach to communities regarding the expansion and adoption of broadband service and the programs administered by the BDO; and
- serve as the state's subject matter expert for federal funding to help local governments
It's been estimated that over 316,000 Texans are "unserved" by broadband. 89% of those living in rural areas.