AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Legislators in the state capitol are working with the organization Glasshouse Policy to solve the digital divide.
They said the issue of low quality, low speed internet is an issue across the state but primarily in rural areas.
“In Texas, Microsoft estimates that as many as 14.6 million people don’t have access and it Potter County. That number is equally as jarring, where as much as 58% of residents in Potter County don’t have access to broadband internet, which is internet speeds that are defined as 25 megabits per second download and 3 megabits per second upload,” said Managing Director for Glasshouse Policy Francisco Enriquez.
Enriquez said this may be due to private providers choosing to expand and grow in more populated cities.
Lack of broadband access not only affects individuals, but also businesses, education and health care services that use tele-medicine.
“Ranging from talking with your doctor over an internet phone call so you can get diagnosed from one of the best hospitals in Houston when you’re living in a rural part of the county to school districts accessing the internet so they can have online lessons in disparate community colleges or from universities around the state,” he said.
Area Representative Four Price said broadband access is vital to the success of tele-health in our region.
“I passed some tele-medicine legislation in the past to improve access to health care across the entire state but if you don’t have broadband access in rural communities it doesn’t do us as much good to access tele-health the way that folks in larger communities might be able to,” he said.
He recently filed House Bill 1960 which, if passed, will establish a Governor's council tasked with developing strategies to improve broadband access.
“It’s not a problem that we’re going to solve overnight and this is a huge problem that’s going to take a large amount of state investment, but in terms of a first step that we can take that would improve people’s lives today, tomorrow and this year and next year, this is a really important point,” said Enriquez.