Recognizing that broadband is critical to success in the Commonwealth, Governor Tom Wolf today celebrated the creation of Pennsylvania’s Broadband Development Authority, which will manage at least $100 million in federal assistance to coordinate the deployment of broadband throughput throughout Pennsylvania.
“Broadband is as essential today as electricity and water. But there is a digital divide in Pennsylvania,” Governor Wolf said. “This broadband authority will close the gap and ensure consistent, affordable, quality broadband statewide so kids continue to learn, businesses grow, and opportunities abound for all. Pennsylvanians.”
In December, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 2071 to create the Pennsylvania Broadband Authority to serve as a one-stop-shop for all things broadband in Pennsylvania.
“Without reliable high-speed internet, kids can’t do their homework and local businesses can’t compete,” said US Senator Bob Casey. “We passed the Infrastructure Investment and Employment Act to help solve this problem. The formation of the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, signed into law by Governor Wolf, is a critical step in Pennsylvania utilizing the hundreds of millions of dollars coming into the Commonwealth for broadband through the Infrastructure Act. With high-speed Internet access, kids can keep up with their education, small businesses can reach more customers, and families can stay connected. It is an investment in our communities, our children and their future.
The pain from the lack of reliable broadband is found across the state and has been exacerbated over the past two years as Pennsylvanians rely on virtual means of communication, work and learning. While rural counties are particularly vulnerable, communities outside of Pennsylvania’s largest cities are also being left behind due to their inaccessibility or affordability. At least 500,000 Pennsylvanians are without broadband, this lack of access is slowing economic growth and limiting opportunity.
“It is alarming that even today I hear the disturbing stories of rural communities where internet access remains unavailable. The fact that this is still a problem plaguing rural communities across our Commonwealth is simply unacceptable” “, said Wyalusing Area School District Superintendent Dr. Jason Bottiglieri, representing the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools. “While almost every Pennsylvanian has likely experienced a call drop on their cell phone or been frustrated by an internet outage, our rural communities deal with it every day Imagine learning in this environment, imagine working or running a business in this environment, imagine not having access to medical research or being denied access equal to quality doctors and mental health services that can be provided via telemedicine We cannot leave the zip code of a child dictate his success.
HB2071 was championed by a bipartisan task force that included members of the administration and General Assembly. Representatives Pam Snyder and Martin Causer, along with Senator John Kane joined today’s celebration.
“Creating the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority is just the first step in connecting millions of Pennsylvanians to high-speed internet,” Rep. Snyder said. “Now the Commonwealth has a single entity that can focus solely on ensuring that every resident has equal and affordable access to broadband, regardless of where they live.”
“The bipartisan broadband legislation I sponsored is a game-changer for our state. With the Authority in place, we will have the kind of comprehensive plan and coordinated efforts we need to maximize broadband funding. to roll out high-speed connectivity to all areas of our state,” Rep. Causer said. “Thank you to my colleagues in the Legislative Assembly and Governor Wolf for your support of this important legislation.”
The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority is made up of an 11-member board. The council includes the secretaries of Pennsylvania’s departments of agriculture, community and economic development, education, general services, and budget; the executive director of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania; chairman of the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission; and four legislative members.
“Two months ago, we passed a landmark bill to establish the Broadband Development Authority of Pennsylvania, the first such entity in Commonwealth history. I was honored to be appointed to the Authority’s Board of Directors and am thrilled with the work we began at today’s meeting,” said Senator Kane. “As a Commonwealth, we have the opportunity to make a major investment in expanding our broadband infrastructure to ensure all Pennsylvanians are covered, while creating well-paying, subsistence jobs in the process. I look forward to working with this bipartisan group to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to this essential utility.
Governor Wolf has worked to improve broadband access throughout his administration. In 2018, the Wolf administration launched a $35 million Pennsylvania Broadband Investment Incentive Program to expand broadband in rural areas.
In 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development launched the Unserved Broadband Broadband Funding Program to further support the deployment of high-speed broadband infrastructure in unserved areas with $10 million in funding. dollars.
The creation of the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority is a step towards providing broadband access to all Pennsylvanians and setting the Commonwealth on the path to a better future.