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Relating to the expansion of broadband services to certain areas.
Depending upon the amount of grants, loans or incentives needed to expand broadband services in needed
areas of the state and upon the costs to staff and perform the duties of the State Broadband Development
Office, there would be an indeterminate fiscal implication to the state. Therefore, the fiscal implications of
the bill cannot be determined.
SB 5 would add one non-voting member to the governor's broadband development council of 17 voting members. The council would research, study and analyze the deployment and outcomes of the state broadband development office.
SB 5 would also establish the State Broadband Development office housed within the University of Texas System with a 12 member advisory board. This office would use census data to create and annually update all areas in the state to indicate the access to broadband service in each area. The development office shall also develop programs to incentivize the expansion of broadband service in underserved areas of the state and to serve as an information clearinghouse regarding federal programs that provide assistance to local entities with respect to broadband service.
SB 5 would also create a special broadband development account outside the general revenue fund funded through appropriations, gifts, federal grants, and donations, to be used to administer the broadband development program or create/update the broadband service area map.
The state broadband development office would be able to adopt rules as necessary to implement this legislation.
Texas Action opposes SB 5 because it expands government and interferes with free markets. This bill would expand government by creating a new broadband development office and requiring a yearly report on broadband service access in the state. The broadband internet service providers in this state already have a profit incentive to identify barriers to residential and commercial broadband access and to address those barriers so as to expand their reach to as many homes and businesses as possible.