PHARR, Texas (ValleyCentral) — State Proposition 8 would create a broadband infrastructure fund to expand internet access statewide.
According to a 2019 analysis from the national digital inclusion alliance, three out of the five least connected cities in the country are in the Rio Grande Valley.
Proposition 8, if passed, would allocate $1.5 billion to expand the broadband internet service to areas that lack access.
“And as you may know, in the border region, the RGV, about 45% of people don’t have fixed broadband in the home,” said Jordana Barton-Garcia, senior fellow with Connect Humanity, “That includes DSL and things that are kind of getting outdated, because they’re not fast enough for the needs that people have or the kind of video conferencing that we’re doing.”
Taxpayers won’t see an increase in their taxes as the money was allocated during this year’s regular legislative session.
According to the U.S. Census bureau, 14% of Texans don’t have access to internet other than their smartphone. Some people don’t have access at all.
Proposition 8 would help close the connectivity gap by expanding high-speed internet in areas that lack access. Some parts of the Valley would benefit.
“For our young people to stay, or if they want to build a business in the RGV, they’re going to have the infrastructure, right. We want them to have the infrastructure to run internet-based businesses and have the efficiencies and all of that. That’s what attracts industry,” Barton-Garcia said.
For those living in rural areas, access to the internet will open more avenues to online education and job portals to fill out applications.