TYLER, Texas (KETK) — In 2021, Texas lawmakers reviewed broadband surveys and asked for federal funds, but were denied because the state did not have a plan. Now, Deep East Texas representative, Trent Ashby, has introduced House Bill 9 to hopefully solve this problem.
Ashby said during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many families struggled to learn and work remotely. This is why lawmakers say House Bill 9 will build the infrastructure needed for every Texan.
“One of the positive attributes is that it really highlighted the need we have in East Texas and across the state for better broadband, better connectivity to what we know now is an absolute necessity,” said State Rep. Trent Ashby, (R) Lufkin.
Texas is one of five states that currently does not have broadband infrastructure. This ultimately hurts residents, especially those living in rural counties with less access to the internet.
“Texas will now be leading the country in terms of making a bold, strategic investment to the tune of up to $5 billion over the next 10 years,” said Ashby.
Lonnie hunt who is the executive director with DETCOG also says broadband is needed for the safety of everyone in Deep East Texas.
“You can get help if an emergency by calling or texting 911. But if you have no connectivity you are out of luck,” said Hunt.
Ashby said this proposed bill will build out the next-generation 911 efforts in school safety and emergency calls.
“Should an emergency arise, whether that be at a school house, whether that would be on the side of the road… that they will have access to emergency 911 services,” said Ashby.
Although this is a step in the right direction Hunt believes that what may be the best solution for rural areas will still not attract companies looking to make money.
“Some customers you turn a profit on, some you lose money on but by casting a larger net you can service everybody and sustain the system,” said Hunt.
The goal of the bill is to make sure East Texans even in the most rural areas are not left off the grid.
To show there is a need for high-speed internet, Ashby suggests you make your voice heard through a survey, click here to access it.