AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – During his State of the State speech on February 1 Texas Gov. Greg Abbott named expanding broadband access as one of his emergency items for the 87th Texas legislative session.
Many rural communities in Texas don't have access to reliable broadband Internet, according to a news release from Connect2Educate, a Texas-based partnership led by Internet service providers to expand Internet access throughout the state. This make it difficult rural communities to complete tasks requiring high-speed Internet, including virtual learning and telemedicine.
Connect2Educate works with local governments and ISDs to provide quality Internet services and software support to Texas families regardless of income level, according to a news release.
During the pandemic, many schools have transferred to online classes. Children who live at homes without readily accessible broadband Internet access miss important content in their online classes, which leads to them falling behind in their schoolwork.
"The digital divide has become more widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic and it needs to be fixed right away. The distribution of devices and wifi hotspots is good, but it's not going to solve this problem for the long term," said JJ McGrath, Founder of Connect2Educate, Owner/Operator of TekWav, and state director of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA).
McGrath isn't surprised Gov. Abbott named expanding broadband access an emergency item either.
"Too many children cannot attend online classes or complete their homework because they do not have reliable Internet access at home. Expanding broadband Internet access by utilizing fixed wireless Internet will help ensure that students continue receiving a quality education," McGrath said.
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