The PA Broadband Development Authority voted unanimously to adopt the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Broadband Plan that will focus on four challenge areas and explore opportunities for universal broadband access in Pennsylvania.
The four challenge areas are:
- Broadband Service Infrastructure and Availability
- Digital Equity and Affordability
- Device and Technology Access
- Digital Literacy and Technical Support
Senator John Kane, D-Chester/Delaware, said Pennsylvania has not only pressing short-term needs for broadband access but also equally essential long-term needs.
“Serving as Minority Chair on the Communications & Technology Committee, we have identified countless benefits to expanding broadband access,” Kane said in a statement. “When we provide all Pennsylvanians with strong and reliable internet access, it allows our businesses to work efficiently locally while also being able to compete in the global economy.”
Kane said that reliable internet access will provide additional benefits to Pennsylvania residents, including more options for high quality health care, accelerating schools and reinvigorating students with access to new ideas, text and resources, all while connecting the state in more ways than before.
“Moving forward, it is imperative that we can accurately locate and determine which areas of our commonwealth need these essential broadband services,” said Kane.
The FCC released last November its draft National Broadband Map, which serves as a location-by-location view of high-speed Internet availability in America. At that time, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Pennsylvania’s Statewide Broadband Plan. From Nov. 17 until the deadline date of Jan. 13, 2023, eligible entities can submit challenges in time for the FCC to include corrections in the final version of the map. The final version of the map will be used to allocate Internet for All funding in the summer of 2023.
“This is the ideal time for residents, businesses, schools, and organizations to check the FCC map to ensure their broadband availability is accurately represented,” Kane said. “A precise map of broadband connections will allow us to represent and speak for the areas who need broadband throughout our commonwealth, and make sure it is in the funding plan.”
The board voted at a special meeting held by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development Authority to approve the scope of work and budget proposed by Penn State Extension. The plan is designed to help advance the planning and implementation efforts done by the Broadband Authority.
“To have Penn State and the Broadband Authority working together on this Statewide Broadband plan shows that it’s all hands-on-deck to get reliable connectivity throughout our Commonwealth,” said Kane. “It is up to us to do all we can to keep this plan moving and strengthen the signal in Pennsylvania.”