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  88R11075 DIO-F
 
  By: Nichols S.B. No. 1238
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to broadband development.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Sections 490I.0101(a) and (b), Government Code,
  are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  For purposes of this chapter, subject to Subsection (b),
  "broadband service" means Internet service with the capability of
  providing a:
               (1)  [a download] speed of not less than 25 megabits per
  second for a download [or faster]; [and]
               (2)  [an upload] speed of not less than three megabits
  per second for an upload; and
               (3)  network round-trip latency of less than or equal
  to 100 milliseconds based on the 95th percentile of speed
  measurements [or faster].
         (b)  If the Federal Communications Commission adopts
  standards [upload or download threshold speeds] for advanced
  telecommunications capability under 47 U.S.C. Section 1302 that are
  different than those specified by Subsection (a), the comptroller
  by rule may require Internet service to be capable of matching the
  [providing download or upload speeds that match that] federal
  standards [threshold] in order to qualify under this chapter as
  "broadband service."
         SECTION 2.  Sections 490I.0105(a), (c), (d), (f), (k), (l),
  and (n), Government Code, are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  The broadband development office shall create, update
  annually, and publish on the comptroller's Internet website a map
  classifying each designated area in this state as:
               (1)  an unserved [eligible] area, if[:
                     [(A)] fewer than 80 percent of the broadband
  serviceable locations [addresses] in the designated area have
  access to broadband service; [and
                     [(B)  the federal government has not awarded
  funding under a competitive process to support the deployment of
  broadband service to addresses in the designated area; or]
               (2)  an underserved [ineligible] area, if the area is
  not an unserved area and fewer than[:
                     [(A)] 80 percent [or more] of the broadband
  serviceable locations [addresses] in the designated area have
  access to broadband service capable of delivering threshold speeds
  the comptroller establishes by rule; or
               (3)  a served area if the designated area is neither an
  unserved nor an underserved area [(B) the federal government has
  awarded funding under a competitive process to support the
  deployment of broadband service to addresses in the designated
  area].
         (c)  After creation of the initial map described in
  Subsection (a), the office may evaluate the usefulness of the
  standards for unserved [eligible and ineligible] areas outlined in
  Subsection (a) and, if appropriate, make a recommendation to the
  legislature to revise the standards.
         (d)  The map required by Subsection (a) must display:
               (1)  the number of broadband service providers that
  serve each designated area;
               (2)  for each designated [eligible] area, an indication
  of whether the area has access to Internet service that is not
  broadband service, regardless of the technology used to provide the
  service; and
               (3)  each public school campus in this state with an
  indication of whether the public school campus has access to
  broadband service.
         (f)  Except as provided by Subsection (g), the office shall
  use the best available data, including information available from
  the Federal Communications Commission, to create or update the map.
         (k)  A person who contracts under Subsection (i) may not
  provide services in this state to [for] a broadband provider [in
  this state] before the second anniversary of the last day the
  contract is in effect.
         (l)  The office shall establish criteria for determining
  whether a designated area should be reclassified as an unserved
  [eligible] area or an underserved [ineligible] area.  The criteria
  must include an evaluation of Internet speed test data and
  information on end user addresses. The criteria may also include
  community surveys regarding the reliability of Internet service,
  where available.
         (n)  A broadband service provider or political subdivision
  may petition the office to reclassify a designated area on the map
  as an unserved [eligible] area or underserved [ineligible] area.
  The office shall provide notice of the petition to each broadband
  service provider that provides broadband service to the designated
  area and post notice of the petition on the comptroller's Internet
  website.
         SECTION 3.  Section 490I.0106, Government Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         Sec. 490I.0106.  BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. (a) The
  broadband development office shall establish a program to award
  grants, low-interest loans, and other financial incentives to
  applicants for the purpose of expanding access to and adoption of
  broadband service [in designated areas determined to be eligible
  areas by the office under Section 490I.0105].
         (a-1)  The office may award grants, low-interest loans, and
  other financial incentives to applicants for the deployment of
  eligible broadband infrastructure projects located in:
               (1)  an area classified by the office as unserved or
  underserved; or
               (2)  an area classified by the office as served if the
  proposed broadband infrastructure project is targeted to deploy
  broadband services to locations within the designated area that do
  not have access to broadband service.
         (a-2)  The office may award grants to applicants for projects
  not involving the deployment of broadband infrastructure that
  expand the accessibility, affordability, or adoption of broadband
  service, including education, training, community outreach, remote
  learning or telehealth facilities, equipment purchases, or any
  other use permitted by the applicable funding source.
         (b)  The office shall establish and publish criteria for
  making awards under this chapter [Subsection (a)]. The office
  shall:
               (1)  take into consideration grants and other financial
  incentives awarded by the federal government for the deployment of
  broadband service in a designated area;
               (2)  prioritize the applications of applicants that
  will expand access to and adoption of broadband service in
  designated [eligible] areas in which the lowest percentage of
  broadband serviceable locations [addresses] have access to
  broadband service; and
               (3)  prioritize the applications of applicants that
  will expand access to broadband service in public and private
  primary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education.
         (c)  Notwithstanding Subsection (b)(2), the office may
  establish criteria that take into account a cost benefit analysis
  for awarding money to the eligible areas described by that
  subdivision.
         (d)  The office may not:
               (1)  except as provided by Section 490I.01062, favor a
  particular broadband technology in awarding grants, loans, or other
  financial incentives;
               (2)  accept an application from or award grants, loans,
  or other financial incentives to a broadband provider that does not
  report information requested by the office under Section 490I.0105
  or 490I.01061;
               (3)  award a grant, loan, or other financial incentive
  to a noncommercial provider of broadband service for a designated
  [an eligible] area if an eligible [a] commercial provider of
  broadband service has submitted an application for the same
  [eligible] area; [or]
               (4)  take into consideration distributions from the
  state universal service fund established under Section 56.021,
  Utilities Code, when deciding to award grants, loans, or other
  financial incentives; or
               (5)  except as provided by Section 490I.01061, award a
  grant, loan, or other financial incentive for deployment of
  last-mile broadband service for a location that is subject to a
  federal commitment to deploy qualifying broadband service.
         (e)  The office shall:
               (1)  post on the comptroller's Internet website
  information about the application process and the receipt of awards
  and shall update that information as necessary; and
               (2)  post on the comptroller's Internet website for at
  least 30 days information from each accepted application, including
  the applicant's name, the area targeted for expanded broadband
  service access or adoption by the application, and any other
  information the office considers relevant or necessary[, for a
  period of at least 30 days before the office makes a decision on the
  application].
         (f)  During the 30-day posting period described by
  Subsection (e) for an application, the office shall accept from any
  interested party, other than a broadband service provider that does
  not report information requested by the office under Section
  490I.0105 or 490I.01061, a written protest of the application
  relating to whether the applicant or project is eligible for an
  award or should not receive an award based on the criteria
  prescribed by the office.
         (g)  Notwithstanding any deadline for submitting an
  application, if the office upholds a protest submitted under
  Subsection (f) on the grounds that one or more of the broadband
  serviceable locations [addresses] in a designated [an eligible]
  area subject to the application have access to broadband service,
  the applicant may resubmit the application without the challenged
  locations [addresses] not later than 30 days after the date that the
  office upheld the protest.
         (h)  The office shall establish and publish criteria for
  award recipients. The criteria must include requirements that
  grants, loans, and other financial incentives awarded through the
  program for the deployment of broadband infrastructure may be used
  only for capital expenses, purchase or lease of property, and other
  expenses, including backhaul and transport, that will facilitate
  the provision or adoption of broadband service.
         (i)  An award granted under this section does not affect the
  eligibility of a telecommunications provider to receive support
  from the state universal service fund under Section 56.021,
  Utilities Code.
         SECTION 4.  Chapter 490I, Government Code, is amended by
  adding Sections 490I.01061 and 490I.01062 to read as follows:
         Sec. 490I.01061.  EXISTING FEDERAL FUNDING; REPORTING
  REQUIREMENTS.  (a) The office may award a grant, loan, or other
  financial incentive for deployment of last-mile broadband service
  for a location that is subject to a federal commitment to deploy
  qualifying broadband service if:
               (1)  federal funding is forfeited or the recipient of
  the federal funding is disqualified from receiving the funding; and
               (2)  the location otherwise may receive funding under
  the program.
         (b)  An applicant for an award under this chapter that has
  been awarded federal funding directly and has entered into an
  enforceable commitment to deploy broadband services in a location
  shall provide to the office information the office may require
  regarding:
               (1)  the existing enforceable commitment; and
               (2)  the proposed deployment of broadband.
         Sec. 490I.01062.  FIBER OPTIC PREFERENCE. (a) The office
  shall prioritize broadband infrastructure projects that connect
  each end-user location using end-to-end fiber optic facilities that
  meet speed, latency, reliability, consistency, scalability, and
  related criteria as the office shall determine for each applicable
  notice of funds availability.
         (b)  The office may consider an application for a broadband
  infrastructure project that does not employ end-to-end fiber optic
  facilities if the use of an alternative technology:
               (1)  is proposed for a high cost area;
               (2)  may be deployed at a lower cost; and
               (3)  meets the criteria established by the office under
  Subsection (a).
         SECTION 5.  Section 490I.0107(b), Government Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (b)  In developing the state broadband plan, the office
  shall:
               (1)  to the extent possible, collaborate with state
  agencies, political subdivisions, broadband industry stakeholders
  and representatives, and community organizations that focus on
  broadband services and technology access;
               (2)  [consider the policy recommendations of the
  governor's broadband development council;
               [(3)]  favor policies that are technology-neutral and
  protect all members of the public;
               (3)  [(4)]  explore state and regional approaches to
  broadband development; and
               (4)  [(5)]  examine broadband service needs related
  to:
                     (A)  public safety, including the needs of state
  agencies involved in the administration of criminal justice, as
  that term is defined by Article 66.001, Code of Criminal Procedure;
                     (B)  public education and state and local
  education agencies, including any agency involved in the electronic
  administration of an assessment instrument required under Section
  39.023, Education Code; and
                     (C)  public health, including the needs of state
  agencies involved in the administration of public health
  initiatives such as the Health and Human Services Commission and
  the Department of State Health Services.
         SECTION 6.  Section 490I.0110(h), Government Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (h)  The [Beginning one year after the effective date of the
  Act enacting this chapter, the] board of advisors shall meet at
  least semiannually [once every other month] with representatives
  from the broadband development office for the purpose of advising
  the work of the office in implementing the provisions of this
  chapter.
         SECTION 7.  The following provisions of the Government Code
  are repealed:
               (1)  Chapter 490H;
               (2)  Section 490I.0101(c); and
               (3)  Section 490I.0105(m).
         SECTION 8.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
  a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
  provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution.  If this
  Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
  Act takes effect September 1, 2023.