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Having fast, affordable internet can improve lives with access to education, healthcare, and jobs, among other important opportunities.
But nearly 7 million Texans are being left behind, without high-speed internet.
The digital opportunity plan focuses on “closing the digital divide in Texas and ensuring every Texan has the skills and abilities to fully and safely utilize broadband access.”
Submit a comment on the draft plan to address broadband access, affordability, and adoption in Texas by Friday, Jan. 5, 2024.
Why Is the Digital Divide an Issue?
About 2.8 million Texas households are in the digital divide.
The digital divide is the gap between those with broadband access and those without, whether caused by a lack of infrastructure, digital literacy, affordable service, or access to devices. This problem especially impacts rural communities and Latinos and other communities of color.
Facing this digital divide, 23% of Texans are unable to attend online classes, see a healthcare provider, fill out a job application online, start a business, or access online marketplaces.
“These barriers negatively affect Texans’ quality of life and limit economic opportunities for people and the state overall,” according to the Texas BDO.
While high-speed internet may once have been a luxury, it is now a necessity.
“Texans need reliable, high-speed connectivity for public health, safety, education and modern agriculture,” according to the Texas BDO.
What Is the Texas Digital Opportunity Plan?
Until now, Texas had never led a coordinated effort to gather and analyze data on broadband availability and digital opportunity barriers and assets across the state.
The Texas Digital Opportunity Plan calls for five goals to improve quality of life and promote economic growth by enabling fast, reliable and affordable broadband connectivity for all residents and businesses of Texas:
1. All Texans have access to reliable, affordable broadband internet service at home.
2. All Texans have access to affordable computers and other internet-enabled devices in their home, with corresponding technical support services.
3. All Texans have a broad foundation of digital literacy skills and access to a continuum of digital skills development programs.
4. All Texans feel safe online and are familiar with cybersecurity and online privacy measures.
5. Increase the percentage of Texans who utilize the internet for public resources and services.
What Are the Priorities of the Texas Digital Opportunity Plan?
The plan maps out six policy priorities for the state, including:
- Economic and workforce development
- Accessibility of essential services
- Civic and social engagement
- Business and telecommunications
“Recognizing that broadband adoption is a ‘super determinant’ of health, widespread broadband adoption will result in improved personal and community health across Texas,” according to the plan.
The plan also aims to:
- Address foundational digital literacy skills for all Texans and especially low-income households, individuals with limited English proficiency, and individuals with disabilities.
- Expand access to devices other than smartphones.
- Improve online accessibility and inclusivity of public resources.
- Improve adoption of online privacy and cybersecurity measures and increase awareness of online privacy and cybersecurity among individuals with limited English proficiency.
“Access to reliable broadband service is the first step toward achieving these goals and the focus of billions of dollars in infrastructure investment in the state,” according to the plan.
Broadband and Health in Your Community
Broadband access is imperative to the health of many.
We can do our part to advocate for Latinos and for health equity for all people by downloading the Health Equity Report Card from Salud America!
The report card allows you to see what access your community has to healthcare, food, education, and other resources.
Discover interactive, local data and explore local inequities in your area.
Compare the results with other counties and states across the nation and share what you find to advocate for change in your community!