EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Congresswoman Veronica Escobar is at work to bridge the digital divide in the Borderland by ensuring broadband access to El Pasoans.
The Congresswoman testified before the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies on Tuesday during the subcommittee’s Member’s Day hearing.
“The pandemic exacerbated the digital divide and now we must do what we can to ensure these communities have the broadband access they need to prosper for the duration of the pandemic as well as after it is over,” testified Escobar.
The Congresswoman submitted the Cotton Valley Connect project for consideration under the ReConnect Grant account that she says would help students and families in the Fabens and Tornillo Independent School Districts by providing broadband access using wireless mesh service.
“These two school districts serve some of the most economically disadvantaged communities and census tracts in El Paso County, and expanding broadband access in these areas would positively impact the lives of over three thousand students,” said Escobbar.
The Broadband ReConnect Program is through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and provides funding for construction, improvement or acquisition of facilities and equipment that provide broadband services in eligible rural areas.
The ReConnect Program generates investments from the private sector to distribute broadband infrastructure for high-speed internet services in rural communities that include homes, community facilities for public safety and healthcare, schools, libraries, farms, ranches and more.
Granting broadband access would help reduce barriers to success faced by many students in the community.
“Giving these students the ability to access learning resources from their own homes will have several practical effects like allowing them to conduct research for homework or prepare for a class presentation,” said Escobar.