The Texas Public Utilities Commission is cutting the amount of money from a fund that subsidizes rural Texas network services, creating a potential loss of phone and internet services for more than a million Texas homes. For many of these homes, phones service is more expensive to provide due to fewer customers and longer distances between customers. And broadband service, though not subsidized, is often provided on the same lines.
Telecommunications companies are normally reimbursed for these services from the Texas Universal Service Fund, but the Fund has been losing money in recent years. Maintaining internet connections during the pandemic is critical due to the necessity for increased online meetings, which include medical care for many seniors and online educational needs. Other services at risk are LifeLine, a service that provides low-income residents basic phone service, and Relay Texas, which connects deaf, hard–of–hearing or speech–impaired individuals. More details can be found at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/01/25/rural-texas-broadband-service/