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Abbott and O'Rourke want internet access for rural areas but disagree on how

Posted at 8:08 PM, Dec 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-23 21:27:58-05

ROBSTOWN, Texas — JD Boone moved to Spring Gardens, located just outside of Robstown, about a year ago. He said ever since he moved to the area, he’s experienced slow internet.

“Whenever we’re trying to monitor the home, we’re trying to check in on the camera. A lot of times it’s just a dropped signal, no signal is there, we can’t see what’s going on in the house,” Boone said.

He said there’s only one internet provider in the area and pays about $100 a month for internet. He said when his kids are going to school remotely and doing homework, the internet can go in and out.

“If they don’t have a signal, they can’t do their online classes, so it drops the signal out in the middle of the course. That’s happened a couple of times,” he said.

All sides of the political spectrum are working on it. President Biden’s infrastructure bill is putting $65 billion towards broadband. Texas Congressman Michael Cloud is also hoping to bring better broadband to rural areas of the Coastal Bend.

Candidate for Texas Governor Beto O’Rourke is also trying to bring high-speed internet to communities in Texas.

“It’s the only way that we can finish our education, look for a job, start a small business, or do just about anything that’s important to us in our lives right now,” O’Rourke said.

However, Governor Greg Abbott is also supporting the same issue, signing House Bill 5 into law in June, which created a state broadband office and appoints a council to monitor and fund broadband in rural communities.

That same month Abbott vetoed House Bill 2667, which would have brought in more money to the Texas Universal Service Fund, which supports internet in rural areas. Abbott argues it would have created a new fee, but O’Rourke said it would cause inflation.

“Every time you open that electricity or gas or internet or phone bill and you see your rates going up, that’s due to one person and one person alone…Greg Abbott,” O’Rourke said.

The Texas Tribune reports Abbott’s campaign responded by saying he’s signed 6 broadband reform bills and put $500 million towards internet access in rural communities.

“I’d much rather those in the corporate offices be paying their fair share than asking rural telephone customers,” O’Rourke said when asked about Abbott’s laws.