Broadband Development Office
Broadband for all Texans!
The path to the development of the Broadband Development Office and creating a statewide broadband plan began in 2019 Legislative Session. Details of the bills include:
From the 86th Legislature:
SB 14 Electric Co-Op Pole Attachment Right of Way
- Allows Co-Ops to deploy broadband using existing electric distribution lines.
- Co-Ops are member-owned non-profits, which have over 300,000 miles of distribution lines throughout rural Texas.
- By utilizing their existing electricity infrastructure, Co-Ops are able to deploy broadband to the members they serve and meet their need for high speed internet.
From the 87th Legislature:
HB 5 Broadband Access Expansion
- Requires the state to create a statewide broadband plan.
- Requires the state to create and maintain a broadband access map by 1/1/23
- Creates the Broadband Development Office in the comptroller’s office that will be identifying which areas of Texas have access to broadband and which do not, ultimately defining who will be eligible for state, federal, and philanthropic funding
HB 1505, Texas Broadband Pole Replacement Program
- Reimburse pole owners or broadband service providers 50 percent of eligible pole replacement costs or $5,000 for removing and replacing existing poles, whichever is less.
- Target unserved areas to accommodate the attachment of an eligible broadband facility.
- Include a Broadband Pole Replacement Fund, which will be held in the state treasury outside General Revenue and be supported by the federal Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. The fund can only be used for:
- Supporting the pole replacement program.
- Funding program administration and operation, $75 million out of $500.5 million appropriated for broadband projects in SB 8 (3rd Called Session)
- Estimated completion of rules: March 1st 2022.
SB 8 (3rd Called Session) Federal Funds Appropriations Bill
- Appropriated $500.4 million to Comptroller for Broadband Infrastructure
- Of that $75 million was for Texas Broadband Pole Replacement Program
Dec. 2021 -Application for the federal funds with Treasury 12/27/21, per federal guidelines would allow 5% for administration costs, meaning $25 million. Still awaiting treasury funds.
March 1 2022 – Post rules for HB 1505 – Texas Broadband Pole Replacement Program
June 15 2022 – Statewide Broadband Plan,
- Currently soliciting for a consultant to assist comptroller in development of statewide plan
- Will hold 12 meetings, some in person, some virtual. Will reach out to legislative office to highlight upcoming meetings. Meetings will take place late February until April.
- Looking to get feedback on grant program and statewide development
- Looking for feedback on priorities for broadband investments.
September 1, 2022 – FCC Broadband Map Posted Online
September 26, 2022 – Infrastructure grant program submitted to the US Treasury for approval
- Will be general guidance
- Have the ability to refine and improve the grant program
January 1, 2023 – Statewide Broadband Map Published