AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the last 20 years, those at the nonprofit Connected Nation have been working to bridge the digital gap.
“We believe that the digital divide should be completely closed,” said Jessica Denson, the nonprofit’s communications director.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission defines a minimum of 25 megabits downloaded per second and three megabits uploaded per second as high-speed broadband.
“You can do some basic stuff, but you can’t go five or six people necessarily,” she said. “You may be teleworking your kids’ remote learning, and that could be a problem.”
The 25 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload standard has been in place since 2015. Those at the nonprofit said that’s outdated with speeds that aren’t enough for most internet users.
Under the 25 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload standard, Mason County has the least connectivity with only 68% of households having access to those broadband speeds.
However, when bumping up to a minimum download of 100 and upload speed of 10 Mbps per second, then Mason County has even less access with under 5% of households being able to browse the web at those speeds.
Just recently, federal and state leaders pledged millions in infrastructure upgrades. The latest effort will bring $10 million to Lampasas and San Saba counties. The money will help connect 647 people, 19 businesses and 151 farms to high-speed internet.
“They’re providing internet to schools and small businesses. There are two hospitals in their coverage area that now can do telemedicine,” explained Lillian Salerno, the state director for the USDA’s mission of rural development.
Connected Nation said those upgrades are key to ensuring our children’s future.
“We need to think about that piece of home internet and connectivity and part of it is for the kids,” Denson said. “We can’t just be okay with the status quo.”
At this time, the FCC is looking to upgrade the megabits per second criteria. Meanwhile, the federal Infrastructure and Investment Act is providing funds to boost speeds to at least 100 megabits per second for downloads and 20 megabits for uploads.