The Biden administration’s $45 billion federal investment in “Internet for All” could help the Lone Star State bridge the digital divide.
Friday marked a critical milestone in our country’s efforts to bridge the digital divide and connect millions of Americans to affordable, high-speed internet. Following the Biden administration’s Internet for All announcement last week, states can now apply for funding opportunities through a $45 billion federal investment, which aims to increase access to education, health care and economic opportunities through broadband.
Established through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, this new grant process invites partnerships between all levels of government and the private sector, encouraging state governments to submit their own plans designed to solve the specific needs of their communities and constituents.
In Texas, there are an estimated 7.4 million people without high-speed internet. This includes roughly 2.5 million Texans who still can’t access any internet in their homes, particularly in rural areas and low-income households.
Last year, the state legislature set up a dedicated broadband office, which has conducted an extensive listening tour across our state. This will allow Texas to build a plan that leverages the funds in ways that meet the need for internet access as well as address affordability and digital literacy challenges.
Increasing broadband access in Texas also requires expanding the reach of available technology, which currently depends on factors such as cost, terrain, and population density. These grant investments better position the state for its all-in provider approach, from fiber to fixed wireless and everything in between, including low-Earth-orbit satellites.
The Internet for All initiative will also ensure the state remains economically competitive at a global scale. With this upcoming funding, Texas 2036’s focus remains on working with our Digital Texas partners, the broadband development office and others to help Texas make the digital divide a thing of the past.
Internet for All programs:
- Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program: $42.5 billion for infrastructure
- Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program: $1 billion for projects to increase local competition and create a more reliable connection for underserved communities
- State Digital Equity Act Programs: $1.5 billion for a series of Digital Equity Act steps, such as digital literacy training, to increase use