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Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Broadband refers to always-on, high-speed internet access and is increasingly seen as a requirement for modern life. The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) benchmark for high-speed internet is at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads.

Regardless of internet service provider, broadband speeds differ depending on peak use times (for example, right after work), number of connected devices (computers, smartphones and tablets) and the kinds of material being accessed (email vs. video, for instance).

The Texas Comptroller’s flagship publication, Fiscal Notes, has reported on Texas’ Digital Divide and Broadband Expansion in Texas.

Benefits of Broadband

In its 2010 National Broadband Plan, the Federal Communications Commission stated that “like electricity a century ago, broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life.”

Several facets of Texas’ economy are becoming increasingly dependent on internet access.

Telemedicine

The use of online disease management services, electronic health records, home monitoring and other services can reach Texans who don’t have easy face-to-face access to healthcare. These services have been invaluable during the pandemic.

Agriculture

Texas farmers depend as much on technology as any stockbroker or banker. Autonomous machinery, data-driven irrigation sensors and web-enabled sales platforms are just a few of the 21st century tools behind the scenes of modern “precision” agriculture, which applies high-tech processes to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of planting, nutrient and pest management and harvesting.

Education

Today’s students need to be technologically equipped for success in tomorrow’s workforce. Broadband can help them maintain an advantage in finding and applying for jobs and gaining new career skills. Broadband technology also is key to the use of online or “distance” learning, used by elementary- to university-aged students before, during and after the pandemic.

Business and Tourism

Digital technologies anchored by high-speed internet can help businesses generate sales, expand their reach in the global marketplace and make purchases from larger vendor networks. A joint U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Amazon survey estimated that increased access to digital tools over three years could generate nearly $6.7 billion in increased annual sales for rural Texas businesses, while creating more than 23,000 additional Texas jobs.

Public Safety

With advancements in technology, first responders have come to rely on commercial wireless services to share video and other important data for the purpose of keeping people safe and saving lives. These services rely on dependable, available broadband to accomplish mission-critical communications that make the success of their efforts possible.

Accessing Broadband

Broadband can be obtained through a variety of services.

  • Fiber optic technology, through a series of steps, transmits data through hair-sized glass fibers at speeds exceeding other broadband technologies. While fast, fiber has limitations in its availability from the high cost of creating its network infrastructure.
  • Cable modem service enables cable operators to provide broadband using the same coaxial cables that deliver pictures and sound to a user’s television.
  • Digital subscriber line (DSL) is a wireline transmission technology that transmits data over traditional copper telephone lines already installed to homes and businesses.
  • Wireless broadband can be mobile or fixed. It connects a home or business to the internet using a radio link between the customer’s location and the service provider’s facility. Topography and manmade structures can prevent availability to some wireless networks.
  • Satellite broadband is another form of wireless broadband and is useful for serving remote or sparsely populated areas.
  • Broadband over powerline (BPL) is an emerging technology that uses existing low- and medium-voltage electric power distribution networks to deliver broadband to homes via existing electrical connections and outlets. BPL is available in very limited areas.

Source: FCC

The Affordable Connectivity Program

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in December 2021. The program aims to bring affordable connectivity to eligible households by providing up to $30 per month toward internet services and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.

In addition to monthly service discounts, eligible households can also receive up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet. Learn more about eligibility and enrollment for the ACP on the FCC's website.


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