The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has received a special legislative appropriation of one million dollars to bring high-speed internet connections to Texas communities through their public libraries.
The funds will allow TSLAC to facilitate local public library access to federal discounts that will make broadband connections affordable. The request was funded as part of the agency’s 2018-2019 legislative appropriation.
- Currently, only 6 percent of Texas public libraries have internet connections at speeds recommended by the Federal Communications Commission.
- Public libraries are the only source of public Internet access for approximately 60% of communities.
- Students, jobseekers, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and many others rely on public libraries as a vital link to online information.
- Texans visited their public libraries 73 million times and logged 26 million Internet sessions in 2014.
- Without access to high-speed Internet, Texans cannot be competitive in education, workforce, and economic development.
- E-Rate discounts available to public libraries make high-speed Internet affordable, bringing the cost down to as little as 10% of the market cost.
- Approximately 23% of Texas public libraries receive E-Rate discounts, compared to 65% of all U.S. public libraries.
- The FCC adopted standard for public library internet speed is 100 megabits/second for libraries serving fewer than 50,000 persons, and 1 Gigabit/second for libraries serving communities of over 50,000.
TSLAC’s New Broadband Program for Libraries
Using the appropriation, TSLAC will assist public libraries in navigating the application process to obtain federal E-rate discounts for high-speed internet, potentially lowering the cost by as much as 90 percent. In addition to providing professional support to libraries for completion of the E-rate application process, TSLAC will also make available funds to help defray any increased costs for a year for Internet service.
The new project, called Libraries Connecting Texas (LCT), has two parts:
1) Participating libraries will apply for the E-rate federal discount program this Fall to secure a faster Internet speed with the help of a professional E-rate coaching firm, receiving one-on-one support and training to guide them successfully through the application process.
2) Through E-rate, these participating libraries will receive up to 90% discount (depending on poverty level and urban/rural status) and TSLAC will pay the remaining non-discounted portion.
That’s right – ALL (100%) of the participating library’s monthly Internet access costs will be free for one year. As an extra bonus, they’ll also receive an additional year of E-rate support from the coaching firm to help them continue applying for their E-rate discount into the future.
If you'd like more information, please contact Henry Stokes, 512-463-6624, firstname.lastname@example.org.