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New Texas program incentivizes internet providers to give households reliable internet services

The Comptroller's Office stands ready to help with a new program to award grants, provide low-interest loans and other financial incentives to internet providers.

ORANGEFIELD, Texas — Help could be on the way for families preparing to face another school year without reliable internet service.

For them, the broadband battle seems to never end, but now the Texas Comptroller has announced the creation of the Broadband Development Office.

The governor vetoed a bi-partisan bill that would have provided a universal service to fund the endeavor.

But internet is still a concern for those who live in rural areas. One mother in Orangefield said her household takes turns using the internet.

Hopping on the internet isn't the smoothest process for Melanie Marino and her daughters.

“I don't know. We feel like we're living in the old days out here,” Marino said.

With the start of school just weeks away, Marino often thinks about the digital divide.

“It's very hard to take care of, you know, school business, work business,” Marino said.

Their household solely relies on satellite internet, and often times things go wrong if too many people are on it at one time.

“Only one person can really use it at a time,” Marino said. “So, if two of us are on there, it'll kick us off. So, it's just it's hard to take care of life.”

Marino said Orangefield Independent School District has stepped in to help.

“Well, thankfully our school district will give us hotspots if it gets too bad, so the school is really saved a lot of people out in this area for you know offering that, you know service,” Marino said.

Orangefield ISD Superintendent Shaun McAlpin calls the device a one-to-one technique.

“We found that to be beneficial. A lot of our students, though to use not only in class but be able to have those devices at home in most cases,” McAlpin said.

The state Comptroller's Office also stands ready to help with a new program to award grants, provide low-interest loans and other financial incentives to internet service providers.

Marino dreams of the day when hopping online won't be such a production.

“So, everyone just keeps on telling us it is coming but never comes,” Marino said.

Superintendent McAlpin said they are seeing some improvement in the area, but the district is still working to make sure internet difficulties can become a thing of the past.

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