Texas comptroller visits East Texas on mission to improve internet access

Listening tour aims to gather input ahead of state’s first broadband plan
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Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 7:03 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 6, 2022 at 7:18 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The state’s top financial officer visited Tyler on Wednesday to collect input before developing the state’s first broadband plan.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar hosted his latest stop of the Texas Broadband Listening Tour at the University of Texas at Tyler. The tour follows the recent creation of the Texas Broadband Development Office by state lawmakers last session. It’s an effort to improve internet access across the state, and Hegar says it begins with hearing from Texans.

“Our service is pathetic,” said Jim Barrett, who traveled from Timpson to Tyler for the event.

“The library where I work has AT&T U-Verse,” Barrett said. “And out of the last 30 days, we have had three Fridays where the town did not have internet.”

And Barrett says when internet service goes down in Timpson, it’s hard to take care of business.

“The library didn’t have internet, the post office didn’t, some of the banks didn’t, the drugstore didn’t,” he said.

And it’s problems like the ones being faced in Timpson that the Texas Broadband Development Office hopes to solve.

“We have 7 million Texans that are not connected today,” said Hegar. “Even those that do have connectivity, maybe they don’t have very good reliable internet. And so our job is task one: connecting the state. Task number two: make sure we increase the capability and speeds that people have, because it’s so important that they have internet access. It is literally the mode of communication of this century.”

Hegar says they will make use of the input gathered during the tour to develop an idea of what areas have no service at all, and areas where service can be improved. An effort that people like Jim Barrett hope will bring significant improvement.

“My primary purpose of being here today is to see what I can do to help Timpson get better internet service,” Barrett said.

And while Wednesday’s event was the only one scheduled in East Texas, Hegar has four more stops scheduled across Texas in April.

Along with people from all across East Texas, several local government officials were also in attendance.

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