The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority has released the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Statewide Broadband Plan, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday.
Both the immediate and long-term needs of Pennsylvanians are addressed in the State Broadband Plan.
Wolf stated that broadband is as essential in today’s world as electricity and water but noted that there exists in Pennsylvania a digital divide. “This plan will ensure consistent, affordable, quality statewide broadband to keep children learning, businesses growing, and opportunities abounding for all Pennsylvanians.”
In December 2021 Wolf signed legislation to create the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority. Created through bipartisan partnership, the authority serves as a one-stop shop for all things broadband in Pennsylvania and manages more than $100 million in federal funds while working to close the state’s digital divide.
The focus of the authority’s plan to expand broadband across the state is on improving broadband service infrastructure and availability, device and technology access, and digital literacy and technical support. As there are up to 800,000 unserved Pennsylvanians, the plan includes steps to achieve universal broadband access.
Meeting this goal means committing to the following:
Brandon Carson, the authority’s executive director, said in a statement that if Pennsylvania is to remain competitive, equal access to the internet, regardless of income or location, must be provided. “Broadband access affects every area of our lives – from work, to education, to health, and safety. Closing the digital divide helps enhance our communities and fosters economic growth and innovation for all Pennsylvanians.”
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 High-Speed Broadband Funding Program to further support the deployment of high-speed broadband infrastructure to unserved areas with $10 million in funding.