Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation that will help expand access to broadband internet throughout the state.
House Bill 2071, sponsored by a trio of lawmakers in the House of Representatives, will establish the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, an agency that will help award grants to underserved areas throughout the state.
“The COVID-19 pandemic proved once and for all that access to high-speed internet is not a luxury but a necessity,” said Representative Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint). “Successful expansion of broadband comes down to coordination and funding, and this new law addresses both. It is what we need to get across the finish line of providing broadband to all who need it.”
Specifically, the legislation will aid in managing a minimum of $100 million in federal aid Pennsylvania will receive for the broadband rollout. The funds stem from recently passed infrastructure legislation from the federal government.
“I’m confident this law is going to be a game-changer for our farmers, business owners, teachers, students, doctors, patients and all of us who have been hampered by slow or no internet service,” Representative Clint Owlett (R-Wellsboro) added. “I believe the funding and coordination facilitated by this law will finally get broadband service to the ‘last mile.’”
By creating the authority, local internet companies and government organizations will have one, central location to request assistance in further developing the technology.
According to the law, the organization will dissolve in 10 years or when all the federal funding has been completely used.
“This is a great day for all of us who have been fighting for broadband access in the most rural areas of the Commonwealth,” Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Sayre) said. “Broadband infrastructure is as vital to our communities and our economy as our utilities and transportation infrastructure. I look forward to better connectivity for everyone in the Northern Tier.”
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