In September, I, along with other members of the Texas Broadband Now coalition (TBN), were honored to present the Broadband Trailblazer Award to members of our state leadership.
This award was created by the Texas Broadband Now coalition, of which GVEC is a member and founding partner. This coalition, made up of a group of diverse industry partners, promotes the expansion of broadband infrastructure into underserved and unserved communities across Texas. The recipients of the award were Governor Greg Abbott, Comptroller Glenn Hegar, Senator Robert Nichols and Representative Trent Ashby. These state leaders have played a pivotal role in supporting the expansion of broadband access across unserved and underserved areas of Texas.

Some two million Texans lack broadband internet access, and another three million can’t afford it. What’s more, four of the five least-connected cities in the United States are in Texas.  During his tenure, Governor Abbott has shown that he understands the urgency of the problem and the scope of work still needing done. At the September 6 press conference in Laredo where Abbott formally accepted the award, he noted, “Rural electric cooperatives are central to what our goal is in expanding broadband access. Rural areas in particular are underserved. We are working with rural co-ops [like GVEC] to help make sure we deliver to every sector across the state.”

Broadband Access as Legislative Priority

At last year’s 87th Texas State Legislature, Abbott established broadband access as an emergency item, and Senator Nichols and Representative Ashby carried legislation that was ultimately passed. HB 5 created a state-level Broadband Development Office (BDO) within Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s office that offers grants, low-interest loans and other financial incentives to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who expand rural broadband access. The state legislature also passed HB 1505, which helps electric cooperatives pay for electric pole upgrades needed to expand fiber internet access into their communities. I would also be remiss if I did not recognize the efforts of our local State Senator Lois Kolkhorst and State Representative John Kuempel for their support of this legislation and other broadband bills that have helped expand access to more areas across Texas.

GVEC has dramatically increased broadband coverage over the last decade, bringing Fiber to the home and high-speed wireless to a majority of our service territory. This fact positions us as a state leader in regard to creating access for underserved and unserved rural communities. And we’re far from finished. Our expansion of and enhancements to GVEC Wireless service and continuing expansion of Fiber are ongoing.

Delivering More Internet Access Through the Texas Broadband Now Coalition

GVEC is firmly committed to exceeding expectations and Delivering More. As such, I believe our leadership role in terms of local rural broadband expansion creates a responsibility to do more at the state level. This is why GVEC joined AT&T, Texas Telephone Association (TTA) and Amerigroup® as founding members of the Texas Now Broadband Now coalition. As Governor Abbott noted at September’s press conference, “The future of business in Texas is online. And in Texas, we are now bringing that future to absolutely everyone.” I applaud the governor for his vision and resolve in striving to make sure Texans enjoy a level playing field in regard to broadband access. As a founding TBN partner, GVEC is pleased to play a role in helping bring high-speed internet to every corner of the state.

I am always interested in your comments and feedback. Contact me by phone at 830.857.1152, by email at dschauer@gvec.org or by mail at P.O. Box 118, Gonzales, Texas 78629

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