Community Input Will Shape Historic State and Federal Investment to Connect 7 Million More Texans in the Digital Age and Expand Education, Work and Healthcare Opportunities
AUSTIN – The Texas Broadband Development Office, operated by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, is soliciting input from the public on the new Texas Digital Opportunity Plan. The plan outlines how these entities will connect the Lone Star State for a brighter future by making it easier for all Texans to access and use the internet. From today through Jan. 5, 2024, Texans can give their opinions on the Texas Digital Opportunity Plan by visiting broadbandfortexas.com/tdop.
Almost 2.8 million households and 7 million people in our state lack access to broadband, or high-speed internet, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The Digital Opportunity Plan will provide these Texans with the technology and knowledge they need to fully participate in an increasingly digital world.
“Access to reliable, high-speed internet as a means of advancing education, training, employment opportunities, healthcare, and delivery of essential services is critical to the future of our state,” said Glenn Hegar, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. “But we know that we can’t do this without partners in the regions and the communities that need this service the most. Your input, passion and local knowledge will help us ensure the Texas Digital Opportunity Plan establishes a clear roadmap to bridge the digital divide and promote digital opportunities for all Texans.”
“The Texas Digital Opportunity Plan will allow more Texans to access technology and thrive,” said Greg Conte, Director of the Texas Broadband Development Office. “We know that starts with improving broadband (or high-speed internet) adoption, device access and digital skills training, but we want to hear more from community members most in need.”
Historically, the digital divide in Texas has disproportionately left out rural communities, communities of color and low-income families, according to a 2016 Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas report. Because the internet and technology touch so many aspects of life today, bridging this divide is essential to ensure all Texans can participate and succeed.
The Broadband Development Office is partnering with organizations like the Texas Workforce Commission, chambers of commerce, industry associations, educational institutions and elected officials to highlight how high-speed internet and digital skills training can help Texans realize their economic potential.
Participants in the public comment period will help build a stronger, more connected Texas that can offer:
- Better access for better lives. Faster, quality internet can improve people’s lives by providing better access to education, healthcare, and job opportunities, no matter where they live.
- Economic growth and job creation. Identifying digital barriers can create more jobs, attract investments and strengthen local economies.
- Online learning tools. Sharing ideas about the plan can help close the “homework gap” and make sure students have what they need to succeed in the digital age.
- Digital skills for all. The public’s feedback will shape training and education plans so all Texans can succeed in a digital world.
- Cybersecurity and online safety. It’s vital that Texans have the training they need to keep them safe online and protect their personal information.
The Broadband Development Office (BDO), operated by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, awards grants, low-interest loans and other financial incentives to internet service providers who expand access to broadband service in underserved areas. The BDO also provides a variety of tools and resources supporting the expansion of broadband access across Texas. The BDO is charged with broadband expansion, which includes establishing an official statewide plan for expanding access. The Texas legislature appropriated $5 million to the Comptroller to administer the program. Additionally, the American Rescue Plan Act enacted by the federal government has allocated $500.5 million to Texas for broadband expansion, while the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will allocate at least $100 million. For more information, visit BroadbandForTexas.com.