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TribBlog: Boosting Broadband

Most Americans can access broadband internet services where they live, but in rural Texas, some still lack the kind of connectivity that allows them to get online without the hassles of dial-up. On June 14, the Texas Department of Agriculture will release information on the state of connectivity in Texas, including maps of where Texans have the best — and worst — internet access.

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Most Americans can access broadband internet services where they live, but in rural Texas, some still lack the kind of connectivity that allows them to get online without the hassles of dial-up.

On June 14, the Texas Department of Agriculture will release information on the state of connectivity in Texas, including maps of where Texans have the best — and worst — internet access.

Mapping connectivity, including underserved areas, is the state’s first step toward increasing access to broadband. It’s part of a $7.2 billion national effort funded by the 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is led by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service.

Bryan Black, a Texas Department of Agriculture spokesman, said the state will know what areas need the most internet attention in two weeks, when it receives the map from Connected Nation, a national nonprofit that works to increase broadband access. “Once we see that map, we’ll be able to hopefully start working to develop infrastructure,” Black said.

The state agriculture department has already recommended 32 public and private broadband infrastructure or education projects to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The proposals seek nearly $370 million in federal funding.  

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