The Governor’s Broadband Development Council, formed in 2019 by the 86th Legislature to improve high-speed internet connectivity across Texas, gained three members via appointment by Gov. Greg Abbott. Joining Floyd County Judge Marty Lucke on the 18-member council are Bill Hetherington, Akbar Kara and Hatch Smith Jr. The three new members formally took up their roles at the council’s monthly meeting in August.
Authored by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin), House Bill 5 included many of the recommendations from the council’s 2020 report, including the creation of the Broadband Development Office (BDO). HB 5 placed the BDO administratively under the Office of the Comptroller. Comptroller Glenn Hegar appointed agency veteran Greg Conte, formerly manager of the office’s Data Analysis and Transparency Division, as the BDO’s first director.
Nearly a million Texans lack access to broadband services at their home. One of the tasks the BDO will take up is to map broadband access statewide. By identifying those areas still lacking high-speed internet access and completing a state broadband plan, the BDO’s work will qualify Texas for access to federal funding to help bridge the connectivity gap for rural Texans.
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