East Texans provide input to help increase broadband internet access

East Texans provide input to help increase broadband internet access
Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 10:15 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2023 at 10:17 PM CDT
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JASPER, Texas (KTRE) - Texas will soon receive billions in federal taxpayer dollars to increase state-wide internet access. The Texas Broadband Development Office, created by the Texas Legislature, wants to hear directly from the community.

Multiple agencies are traveling around the state to help expand cost-effectively and reliable internet to underserved communities.

“Connectivity to the internet was really not just about streaming some type of entertainment on a device,” said state comptroller Glenn Heger.

Hager and his team are working on a Digital Opportunity Plan to submit to the federal government by December. Heger said holding public meetings helps “to better identify what are the areas of the state of Texas and what are the unique challenges that those communities have.”

Jasper ISD superintendent John Seybold said increasing broadband is essential for public education. The district provides students with electronic devices to eliminate the digital divide, he said, “but that is not adequate in a lot of areas outside the city limits when they go to their house. Sometimes they have to come back to town to certain areas we have set up.”

Executive director of the Jasper Economic Development Corporation, Eddie Hopkins, said it’s important for people to report broadband deficiencies.

“We need to report that because that’s the only way we’re going to get on the radar if they hear from us, and I think they really want to hear from us,” Hopkins said.

Connected Nation Broadband Solutions manager Michelle Currier said most communities believe better internet connectivity means “an overwhelming increase in improved quality of life. It’s better education. It is access to jobs. It’s economic growth.”

City of Jasper mayor Anderson Land said internet connectivity is vital for rural towns. “Affordability and accessibility is very important to us.”

The next meeting will be in Longview on Aug. 1.