AUSTIN — Broadband — an internet connection with sufficient speed to deliver online experiences including full-motion video without significant lag time — is increasingly seen as a requirement for modern life. Yet census data indicate that nearly 20 percent of Texas households don’t have it, particularly in rural areas — and until they do, they’ll continue to be shut out of the modern economy.
In the recently released February edition of Fiscal Notes, the Comptroller’s office takes a look at broadband in Texas: how it’s used, who has it and who doesn’t — and how the state can help bring this service to as many Texans as possible.
“One of the many ways in which COVID-19 has changed society is how it shifted so many aspects of our lives online,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said. “Online shopping has grown enormously, of course, but so have telework, online job searches, telemedicine, distance learning and other applications.
“Bringing broadband to rural Texas could be a complex and expensive undertaking, since internet service providers generally can’t make a profit expanding service to these far-flung areas. But state and federal funding may be available to help.”
The pandemic, which immediately boosted demand for broadband-enabled services, has pushed this expansion to the forefront of the legislative agenda. Gov. Greg Abbott prioritized it as one of his five emergency items for the 2021 session in his State of the State address on Feb. 1.
In this issue, we also look at the next stage of the online evolution, the “fifth-generation” array of mobile communications technologies collectively called 5G. Increasing the performance of mobile devices is particularly important due to the worldwide adoption of smartphones and tablets for business, industry, commerce and leisure.
Fiscal Notes furthers the Comptroller’s constitutional responsibility to monitor the state’s economy and estimate state government revenues. It has been published since 1975, featuring in-depth analysis concerning state finances and original research by subject-matter experts in the Comptroller’s office.
For questions about how our agency functions are continuing during the outbreak, visit our COVID-19 News page or our Virtual Field Office. Fiscal Notes is available online and can be received by subscribing via the Comptroller’s website.