The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on Texas’ broadband and digital connectivity challenges. Reliable internet access, as well as basic computer skills, are vital in our digital world. The pandemic has emphasized just how important digital connectivity is for people’s education, income and health
Over the last year, millions of Texans have been forced to rely on their internet connection for a variety of necessities, including pediatric visits, virtual school, workforce training, job interviews, court hearings, mental health services and more. In some cases, supports for children, families and individuals were strengthened by the expansion of online services.
However, individuals who didn’t already have quality internet access or a computer—or know how to use it—were simply left behind. Consider these statistics:
- Almost 1 million Texans currently do not have access to broadband internet.
- 20% of Texas non-adopters (1.4 million adults) cite lack of digital literacy as main barrier, with older Texans more likely to cite digital literacy as a barrier.
- Workers of color are overrepresented among those with limited or no digital skills.
- The cost of internet service, plus the requirements around financial status in setting up accounts (e.g., credit check requirements) prevents many Texans from accessing the Internet.
The Texas legislature is considering legislation to address our state’s broadband challenges, primarily by investing in broadband infrastructure. However, at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we are concerned about our neighbors that will still be left behind even as the state develops improved broadband infrastructure.