87th Legislative Session Bills Pertaining to Broadband
|SB 154||Relating to the creation of abroadband office within the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the establishment of a broadband service investment grant program.|
|Relating to the expansion of broadband services to certain areas and the need for a council assess progress toward expanding broadband access in rural and underserved areas, technology trends, and impacts of expanded access on economic development.|
|SB 1682||Relating to the funding of utility reliability projects by the Texas Water Development Board and other entities; authorizing the issuance of revenue bonds, granting rule making authority, and making an appropriation for more reliable utilities including water, waste water, broadband etc.|
|HB 145||Relating to the use of the universal service fund for the provision of broadband service in underserved rural areas.|
|Relating tomiddle milebroadband service provided by anelectric utility—namely the attachment for broadband service to utility polls owned by electric cooperatives.|
|Relating to an accommodation process authorizing the use of state highway rights-of-way by broadband-only providers.|
|HB 1511||Relating to the creation of the connectivity office within the office of the governor.|
|HB 1751||Relating to provision of broadband infrastructure and connectivity by the Lower Colorado River Authority.|
|Relating to certain contracting requirements for the provision of broadband Internet access service to governmental entities.|
|SB1799||Relating to the creation of a broadband internet connectivity and broadband access grant program to facilitate instruction and learning for public school students.|
Recent Legislative Updates
Governor's Broadband Development Council
The Governor’s Broadband Development Council (GBDC) was established in 2019 by the 86th Legislative Session to identify ways to provide internet access to underserved areas of Texas.
Duties of the council include: research the progress of broadband development in unserved areas; identify barriers to residential and commercial broadband deployment in unserved areas; study technology-neutral solutions to overcome barriers; and analyze how statewide access to broadband would benefit: (A) economic development; (B) the delivery of educational opportunities in higher education and public education; (C) state and local law enforcement; (D) state emergency preparedness; and (E) the delivery of health care services, including telemedicine and telehealth.
2020 Governor's Broadband Development Council Report
The Council found that over 300,000 locations in Texas are unserved.
As of July 2020, an estimated 926,859 Texans do not have access to broadband at home. This is particularly problematic for those who need to attend school virtually, visit a doctor online, or work remotely, either due to the COVID-19 pandemic or other factors.
The Council found that Texas’ rural population represents approximately 90 percent of all Texans without broadband access.
The main barriers to improving connectivity identified in the report include regulatory, economic, and technical factors, such as population density and geography, infrastructure investment, profitability, and “backhaul” costs. Other barriers include a low rate of broadband adoption, lack of collaboration between stakeholders, and insufficient statewide coordination.