AUSTIN, Texas -- Most Texans rely on fast internet service to do daily work, connect with the community and even get a degree.
But nearly 1.5 million rural Texans do not have access to the internet according to Connected Nation, a nonprofit that aims to expand access to broadband.
A recent report from the Federal Communications Commission also found that 31 percent of rural Texans lack access to high-speed internet, compared to about 2.5 percent in urban areas.
“It's so easy to take for granted here, sitting in Austin, any number of broadband providers can provide to my house. Where out in rural areas, they may be using dial-up still,” said Blake Hutson, associate state director for AARP Texas. “It's a real problem and we need to do something about it. It's time.”
State lawmakers worked to address rural broadband issues during the last legislative session. The most sweeping measure was one that increased access to broadband internet through Texas electric cooperatives using their existing infrastructure to deploy broadband to rural Texans.
Lawmakers got an update on progress during a State Affairs committee hearing at the Capitol Thursday. To date, seven electric co-ops are already providing broadband service and an additional three have made plans to start doing so.
“That's great progress,” Hutson said. “This law is brand new, so we hope that as time goes on, we'll see more and more of those rural electric co-ops providing broadband service to their customers.”
Click the video link above to watch our full interview with Hutson, including other ways the state is working to address rural broadband issues.