Texas 2036 Testifies on HB 5, HB1505 For Broadband Expansion

Luis Acuña, a Senior Policy Advisor at Texas 2036, testified in front of the Texas House of Representatives Committee on State Affairs on April 26 on interim charges related to the monitoring of HB 5 and HB 1505. This is an excerpt of his testimony.

Good Morning, Chairman Metcalf, Vice-Chair Hernandez, and members of the committee.

 Thank you for this opportunity to testify today, my name is Luis Acuña – I’m a Senior Policy Advisor at Texas 2036; here testifying on 

Texas 2036 is continuing our work in this area by focusing on long-term and fiscal sustainable funding for this 21st century infrastructure.

We are working with our Digital Texas Coalition partners and we look forward to working with you, your staff, and any stakeholders that are interested in this topic.

Texas 2036 has also identified opportunities to improve on the work of House Bill 5 and House Bill 1505:

First, following in-line with the most recent Governor’s Broadband Development Council recommendations, Texas should consider developing an underserved area definition in statute.

 While a majority of the state is defined as served under our current definition of broadband speed  of 25/3, there are still many Texans that are underserved.

 An underserved area is defined an area that lacks access to broadband infrastructure that meets or exceeds symmetrical 100 Mbps speeds which is the current standard guiding projects funded by the public sector.

Defining what it means to be underserved will ensure communities in Texas are not overlooked when deploying public funding for projects and will help optimize the broadband programs you established last session. 

 Furthermore, Texas 2036 recently commissioned a report with the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University on prospects for expanding broadband access in Texas.

 Our partnered research found that land-based broadband infrastructure investments must be evaluated against the prospect of the growing Low-Earth-Orbiting satellite broadband technology for very remote areas in our State. Low-Earth-Orbiting satellite broadband provided a cheaper option in the economic modeling performed by Rice University. And reports indicate that this technology can reach and even exceed 100mbps speeds.

Although there are still some uncertainties with LEO satellites, this technology continues to progress with testing and development each day. We encourage the state to consider:

  • First, the technology as a potential viable solution for remote areas.
  • Second, consider and track the evolving federal regulatory policy related to the industry;
  • And lastly, consider other pilot projects for this technology.