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Texas To Receive $3.3 billion in Federal Funds to Boost Broadband Expansion Efforts

Texas will receive more than $3.3 billion in federal money – the most of any state – to help expand access to high-speed internet (or broadband), the White House announced this week.

The news is part of the rollout of the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, which will allocate more than $42 billion for states and territories to improve broadband access. 

Under the program, which President Joe Biden called “the biggest investment in high-speed internet ever,” states and territories will get funding to build or upgrade broadband infrastructure in rural and other underserved areas. The funding was included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law in 2021, which AARP played an instrumental role in passing. States now have six months to submit plans to the federal government and, once approved, will receive funds over two years beginning in 2024.

The Texas Broadband Development Office will allocate the funds, which will go to where the state and federal broadband maps indicate service is needed.

Senior woman using laptop at home

The $3.3 billion federal allotment will be in addition to investments made by Texas lawmakers – and supported by AARP Texas -- during this year’s legislative session. House Bill 9 by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin), sets aside $1.5 billion of state funding to expand internet availability in Texas. According to House Joint Resolution 125, also by Ashby, Texas voters will have final approval of the funds in November. And under other direction from the Legislature, the Broadband Development Office will be able to continue its work, provide grants and awards to local communities and entities for broadband expansion.

AARP has applauded the funding announcement by the White House. “High-speed internet isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity,” Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer, said during a recent AARP tele-town hall on broadband access. “It increases health care options and economic opportunity and decreases feelings of isolation.” 

AARP Texas Director Tina Tran earlier this year also urged lawmakers to continue efforts to improve broadband access. “Broadband is a vital tool to keep Texans connected,” she said. “It gives communities the skills, technology and capacity to thrive in today’s world.”

Finalized by the Federal Communications Commission last month, new broadband maps show that 7 percent of U.S. households and businesses, representing 8.5 million physical locations and tens of millions of individual Americans, do not have broadband internet access, which is defined as internet download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second. The new maps provide information about internet connectivity at a granular level, whereas previous maps assessed connectivity only at a census-block level. The older maps also considered a census block to be served if just one household in that block had broadband access, even if many of its surrounding neighbors did not — leaving many Americans to report that they had no high-speed internet even when the official maps claimed that they did.

The updated maps allowed the federal government to calculate which states had the greatest need for broadband funding and to distribute the infrastructure law’s resources accordingly.

Learn more about how AARP is fighting for digital equity:

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