Affordable Connectivity Is Vital For The Future of Texas

Posted on 05/24/24

A commentary from Kenny Scudder, a volunteer on the AARP Texas Executive Council who has also served on the Governor's Broadband Development Council.


Texas has a historic opportunity to expand access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet to everyone in the state, no matter where they live or their circumstances.

Access, however, depends on more than wires, poles and other pieces of infrastructure. It also depends on making sure that internet service is affordable, and that all Texans have the tools and the skills to use it.

I’m proud to say that Texas just had its digital opportunity plan approved by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The approval is the first step in unlocking federal funding that can help underserved communities – including older Texans, veterans, low-income families, tribal communities, people living in rural areas and others – to connect to the internet.

The plan was developed after robust collaboration with stakeholders, partner organizations, and public participation, including surveys. Through that work, the Texas Broadband Development Office found that while Texas has made significant strides in recent years to close digital gaps, it continues to face numerous challenges, especially in rural areas. They found that Texans do not have internet because it is too expensive or not available to them.

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AARP Texas applauds the approval of our state’s plan to expand high-speed internet access and adoption across our state. High-speed internet is a necessity for older Texans. Better connectivity allows them to navigate online government services, participate in virtual medical services, find and maintain employment, meet daily needs, and connect socially. In short, it will improve the quality of life and help adults 50+ safely age in place.

While putting this comprehensive plan together is a commendable start, there is much work ahead. We must also maintain our focus on ensuring that internet is affordable. Wires alone can’t solve the problem of connectivity, which is why AARP remains

committed to the continuation of the federal Affordable Connectivity Program that allows eligible households to get a benefit that provides a $30-$75 per month discount on the cost of high-speed internet. For many families, that can cover the entire cost of their service. There are over 1.7 million Texas households on the Affordable Connectivity Program and over 40 percent of these are headed by a resident 50 or older.

Though funding for the program expected to end this month, there is much work ahead. AARP Texas looks forward toward working with the Texas Broadband Development Office other stakeholders toward successful implementation of this plan.

This story is provided by AARP Texas. Visit the AARP Texas page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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