Cable is the leading broadband provider in Texas and the nation, with about two-thirds of all high-speed internet subscribers. In fact, as of this year 80 percent of U.S. households can now receive gigabit service through cable. And the Texas Cable Association strongly supports the continued expansion of broadband service in the state.
As cable continues to add broadband subscribers in Texas and across the country, it isn’t just about numbers. It’s also about following a set of principles for responsible broadband deployment, especially in Texas which has the second highest number of broadband subscribers in the United States. These principles will be guiding the Texas Cable Association, its member companies andthe Texas Legislature as it considers ways to expand broadband to those who do not have access.
For example, the Texas cable industry believes that deployment should focus on the areas of greatest eed. Texas cable operators believe that a properly structured state-funded broadband deployment program must ensure that limited government resources are allocated to unserved areas only, and not to overbuild areas where residents already have access to broadband service. The cable industry has invested $275 billion of its own capital over the past 20 years to upgrade and boost internet access.
Internet service providers, including cable, continue to work to find ways to bring high-speed internet to areas all over the map. For example, for the past two years Charter has been testing its 3.5GHz fixed wireless solution for rural broadband in several markets across the nation that were chosen for their terrain, inclement weather and other potential obstacles.
As the Texas Legislature considers how to expand broadband across the state, the Texas Cable Association will be watching to see how they address issues related to that expansion, such as:
- Funding – How will expansion be financed? The cost must be spread amongst the greatest population possible. Additionally, TCA supports payment through general revenues or bonds, but not a telecommunications or broadband specific fee assessed on existing broadband customers or a new Universal Service Fund regulated by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
- Areas eligible – Where would expansion dollars be spent? TCA supports the use of government funding first in areas not served by existing broadband providers and in areas without access to wireline or fixed wireless broadband service.
- Mapping – What areas are considered unserved vs. underserved? What are the criteria? When mapping which areas of Texas are unserved, TCA supports using FCC census blocks and the FCC’s speed benchmark of 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload as determining factors.
- Project approval – How will proposed expansion projects be evaluated and rewarded? TCA believes taxpayer money should be spent on sustainable, technology-neutral projects built in certified unserved areas by an entity with broadband deployment experience. Awards must be transparent. Government-owned networks should not be eligible.
In a relatively short time, broadband access has become a necessity rather than a luxury. It’s essential to educate today’s students; conduct business; stay connected with family or friends, both near and far; or even provide medical treatment without a patient needing to travel long distances – or at all – to see a doctor. And as the cable industry continues to invest in technology and innovation, the possibilities for the future cannot even be imagined.
No question, every Texan deserves access to the internet. The Texas Cable Association is committed to working with legislators, regulators and others to ensure that access is provided in a careful, deliberate manner so that the most Texans benefit.