Gov. Greg Abbott visits Harlingen to announce $1.3B broadband investment

Gov. Greg Abbott delivers remarks during a press announcement held by Charter Communications at Texas State Technical College (TSTC) as Charter Communications announces $1.3 billion investment in Texas which will fund rural broadband expansion for currently unserved and underserved homes including small businesses in Texas. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)
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HARLINGEN — Gov. Greg Abbott visited Texas State Technical College here Thursday morning to announce an investment into the state’s broadband infrastructure.

Inside the TSTC ​​Welcome Center Auditorium, Abbott was joined by Harlingen Mayor Norma Sepulveda and TSTC Regent Lizzy De La Garza Putegnat for his announcement in front of a packed crowd that included local elected officials and representatives of Charter Communications.

Abbott was on-hand to help announce that Charter Communications will be making investments of more than $1.3 billion in Texas as part of its company-wide broadband expansion, much of which will be occurring in the Rio Grande Valley.

“We’ve invested over $150 million in the Rio Grande Valley since 2018,” Charter Communications’ Regional Vice President of Government Affairs Todd Baxter said. “And there’s more to come.”

Charter Communications currently serves over 32 million customers in 41 states through its brand, Spectrum.

Of the $1.3 billion, Baxter said that it has yet to be designated per county, “but there will certainly be a lot of resources coming to the Rio Grande Valley.”

Addressing the crowd, Baxter said that there are two components to the $1.3 billion investment, the first being a $700 million investment into a network evolution project.

This part of the investment will provide “symmetrical and multi-gigabit speeds” throughout the state by 2025. The second part of the investment is a $620 million investment to expand its fiber optic network to more than 140,000 previously unserved and underserved homes and small businesses in over 50 Texas counties. This part of the investment is offset by the nearly $200 million in federal, state and local grants, according to a Charter Communications news release.

Members of an audience laugh as comedian Mario “Superstar” Salazar records a stand-up special at Cine Del Rey on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Baxter said that Charter Communications has connected 102,000 homes and small businesses in the Rio Grande Valley and constructed more than 3,300 additional network miles.

“That is an investment that as a company we are very, very proud of and know that you guys appreciate the support for the community,” Baxter said. “This ongoing investment by us and others has resulted in widespread broadband availability in the Rio Grande Valley.”

He added that 96% of households in Cameron County now have access to broadband.

“We are just months away from everybody in RGV from being able to watch college football streaming no matter wherever you may be,” Abbott joked.

The announcement comes less than a month after Texans approved Texas Proposition 8, an amendment to the state constitution to create the broadband infrastructure fund and expand high-speed broadband access and assist in the financing of connectivity projects.

“Today is a multi-billion dollar investment,” the governor continued. “We’re talking about billions of dollars including substantial investments right here in the Rio Grande Valley to make lives better for everybody who lives in this entire region.”

Many attend a Charter Communications press announcement with Gov. Greg Abbott and local leaders at Texas State Technical College (TSTC) Thursday morning, Nov. 30, 2023, as Charter Communications announces $1.3 billion investment in Texas which will fund rural broadband expansion for currently unserved and underserved homes including small businesses in Texas. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Sepulveda said that Abbott’s visit shows the significant role that the Valley plays in the state and the rest of the country. She echoed his comments made a few months ago about all eyes being on South Texas.

“We have rockets launching 20 minutes from here. This is where South Texas is going to grow,” she said. “In order for us to meet that expectation to be able to serve our citizens throughout the city and throughout the region, we need to ensure that we have broadband and reliable high-speed internet throughout every single neighborhood, in every school district, in every business in order to ensure that we are reaching our potential.”