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Texas Comptroller Expresses Concerns About New Federal Broadband Grant Rules

(AUSTIN) — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has alerted the Texas Congressional Delegation about his concerns regarding the Notice of Funding Opportunity for the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. They issued the Broadband Equity on May 13 by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Hegar is calling on the Texas Delegation to contact NTIA and request it reconsider the technology restrictions on the program.

“Texas is excited to work on closing the digital divide that impacts the lives of too many Texans, and my office understands that getting reliable broadband access to every Texan will take collaboration and cooperation across every level of government and with our private sector partners,” Hegar said. “However, I want to make our representatives in Congress aware that the NTIA’s restrictions run counter to the flexible, technology-agnostic approach that garnered bipartisan support for the legislation that created this program.”

In the letter, Hegar points out that the federal broadband infrastructure grant programs written in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) are technology-neutral. NTIA’s new rules skew the original intentions of the IIJA and potentially engender a government bias toward certain technologies and, consequently, certain internet service providers.

“I am a tremendous supporter of making a long-term investment to ensure a reliable, fiber-quality internet connection is available to every Texan. “Texas should not be pushed into a preferred technology that might work well in Washington, D.C., but doesn’t meet the needs of the people of this state. The people of this state know that what works in West Texas may not work in East Texas,” Hegar said.

“The members of Congress elected to represent these Texas communities need to know that by taking this approach, NTIA is limiting our ability to adequately address the challenges faced in the many diverse and unique areas of our great state. I am urging our Texas congressional members to ask NTIA to recognize the diversity of our state and give us the flexibility necessary to connect Texans to the internet successfully.”

Go to the Comptroller’s website to read the full letter. Go to BroadbandForTexas.com to read Texas’ first statewide Broadband Plan and learn more about the Texas Broadband Development Office.