Fifteen million Texans lack access to broadband internet. Most of those Texans are rural residents, and many live in the Texas Panhandle.
Now, as KERA reports, the state Legislature has proposed two bills aimed at closing the digital gap in the Lone Star State.
Both bills reflect a changing political landscape, in which broadband internet is now widely seen as a necessity, akin to a public utility like gas or water. Indeed, state Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, a Republican from Waco who authored the two bills, has compared the spread of broadband to the electrification of Texas during the Great Depression.
One of the bills, HB2422, encourages state transportation and internet providers to install and maintain broadband alongside ongoing state highway construction. The other bill, HB 2423, would establish a special state office in charge of ginning up Federal and other funding for broadband projects.