Ensure access to reliable connectivity and devices as well as digital literacy and skills training so all students may participate fully in a modernized PK-12 public education system, institutions of higher education, and technical training programs.
- Increase access to dual credit, advanced placement/international baccalaureate, and career and technical education coursework and training through online programs in high school, community colleges, and other institutions of higher education.
- Make available the necessary infrastructure, technology, and basic digital literacy training for expanded remote instruction and blended learning models, not limited to instances of a public health crisis.
- Create opportunity for greater integration of technology in every classroom.
- Increase access to online applications for college, including admission, financial aid (FAFSA), and scholarships.
- Increase opportunities for experiential learning about broadband networks, coding/computer programming, information technology, cybersecurity, as well as ethics, law, and policy regarding technology.
To propel the state’s twenty-first century workforce and economy forward, Texas must address the changing technological demands of employers and equip workers with the digital tools and skills to compete in middle-and-high skill jobs, fostering economic growth and mobility.
- Ensure affordable connectivity, technology, and basic digital literacy to increase opportunities for:
- Employment in high demand, high paying industries;
- Enhanced job-embedded learning and professional development that leads to career advancement; and
- Industry certification and upskilling in high demand jobs and careers.
- Effectively leverage federal funding streams, including TANF, SNAP E&T, WIOA or CARES Act funding for digital inclusion and skilling.
Ensure access to necessary technology, infrastructure, and support needed to maintain reliable telemedicine and telehealth services and ensure utilization/ adoption, especially in locations where medical professionals are not physically available.
- Ensure affordable and reliable connectivity to:
- Share vital health resources and enable disease surveillance across the state;
- Increase access to telemedicine and telehealth, especially in rural areas that lack access to healthcare providers, for elderly and medically fragile patients with limited mobility, and for patients with chronic conditions;
- Increase access to medical sub-specialists and twenty-first century medical procedures; and
- Increase access to telehealth, including counseling and behavioral health services, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy.
Ensure local communities are active partners and investors in addressing local broadband connectivity gaps through public-private partnerships, development of digital inclusion programs, and incorporation of broadband connectivity into their economic development plans.
Ensure state government is successfully organized to support digital connectivity initiatives across our state. Texas should consider the following:
- Develop a statewide broadband plan that addresses the unique needs of communities across the state;
- As part of statewide broadband plan, encourage communities to incorporate broadband connectivity and digital inclusion into their economic development plans;
- Establish an Office of Digital Connectivity to guide development and implementation of a statewide broadband plan as well as other digital inclusion strategies;
- Identify market structures that result in inequitable deployment of broadband services in rural and urban
- Identify disparities across the state caused by inequitable digital access to education, healthcare, e-commerce, and other opportunities not traditionally available to individuals who lack quality access;
- Enhance the collection of data to identify connectivity gaps, enable timely response to critical needs, target investments, and evaluate progress;
- Consider and encourage multiple sources of funding, including an immediate investment of federal funds; dedicated state and/or federal funding; philanthropic support; and corporate financial support and initiatives;
- Protect current laws that support public-private partnerships and intergovernmental partnerships;
- Support market solutions to incentivize the deployment of broadband infrastructure in under- and un-served rural and urban areas of the state;
- Support policies that empower communities to develop local broadband solutions in partnership with private and non-profit stakeholders;
- Develop comprehensive statewide marketing plan to educate all Texans about connectivity options available, including plans, pricing and connectivity speeds;
- Support the creation of a pro-investment market environment that encourages private and public sector innovations, partnerships, and deployment of advanced broadband solutions, including fiber technologies; and
- Promote policies that incentivize the deployment of fiber infrastructure in rural areas to achieve between 500 mbps - gigabit symmetrical speeds for all subscribers (households, small business, municipal services, health clinics, schools, libraries), but with the recognition that where this is not feasible, a minimum broadband speed of 25/3 mbps may be accomplished through hybrid and wireless technologies.