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Two Bills Aim To Bring Broadband To Rural Texas

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From Texas Standard:

In the 1930s, a young congressman named Lyndon Johnson decided he wanted to do something grand – on the scale of his hero, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He pushed for rural electrification, i.e., bringing electricity to remote areas that didn't yet have power – both in Texas and across the country. Today, there's a similar urban-rural divide when it comes to broadband internet access.

State Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson, a Waco Republican, wants to address that broadband divide. He says that in the 1930s, power companies didn't provided electricity in rural areas because it wasn't profitable to do so. The same is true of broadband providers today.

"With the providers we have today, they're doing a good job in general, but they just don't reach those areas where there is not a large profit margin," Anderson says. "And that's where the state can step in – not [in] a regulatory role, but to help coordinate efforts so that we can reach these areas of rural Texas."

Anderson says broadband access is a quality-of-life issue for rural Texans. He says residents of his district, Crawford, have asked for help getting broadband.

"With today's market and global economy, we have to include rural Texas and give them the opportunity," he says. "We want to be able to provide telemedicine for those folks."

Anderson has filed a bill that directs the Texas Department of Transportation to coordinate with providers to add broadband fiber to trenches the agency is already digging for its roadway projects. He also filed a bill that would create a broadband office within the Public Utility Commission.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Morgan Kuehler
Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.