A Better East Texas: Broadband network, federal aid, and community connection
EAST TEXAS (KLTV/KTRE) - We can all agree that a connected community is essential in today’s world.
Since the pandemic, we have learned the practicality remote working, experienced virtual medical care and learned that a connected world helps a myriad of other services. Both the federal and state government see this as well and the feds have awarded 3 point 3 billion in federal money for expanding broadband infrastructure across Texas.
This essentially is the creation of more fiber optic networks across the lone star state. It is estimated that 7 million of Texas’ 33 million do not have access to broadband service. That is a significant portion of the state with many of those in the East Texas area. But this load of money from the federal government comes with some caveats that will make the realization of filling this need a challenge.
Many of the smaller communications companies that reside in Texas will not have access to their share of the 3 billion in underwriting because of a letter of credit requirement from select major banks. To get some relief, the comptroller’s office in Texas will need to intervene to make sure the money is available. Up to this point, no action has been taken and they have until the end of August to roll out the plan.
While we need a provision to protect the federal investment, we must be able to provide opportunity for rural providers to get a portion of this money. Otherwise, students, workers, and patients across our area will be left in the virtual cold.
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