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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

In 2016, well before the pandemic, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas found that the gap between those with broadband access and those without – often called the digital divide – “leads to further economic, social and political disparities for low-income and underserved populations.”

Even in urban areas with accessible broadband, many households still don’t subscribe to the service. Brownsville, Harlingen and Beaumont ranked in the top 20 of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance’s 2019 list of worst-connected cities. Texas’ vast rural areas are especially underserved. As of 2016, only 69 percent of rural Texans could access high-speed internet. Many of the barriers to expansion in Texas concern the state’s size, varying population densities and even its terrain.

This digital divide has serious implications:

  • Telemedicine, vital in areas with physically distant or sparse medical resources, requires reliable broadband service to be effective and serve rural Texans – as well as urban Texans during a pandemic.
  • A 2019 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report on farm technology, A Case for Rural Broadband, noted that adequate broadband infrastructure and other digital technologies in agriculture could add from $47 billion to $65 billion annually to the U.S. economy.
  • Texas has more schools in rural areas than any other state. The Classroom Connectivity Initiative says nearly 275,000 Texas students need more bandwidth for digital learning.

Need assistance?

If you have additional questions, email the Broadband Development Office or call 833-3-TEXBDO toll-free.

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