Pennsylvania Governor Shapiro Highlights Administration’s Plans to Expand Broadband Access Across Pennsylvania During Visit to Beaver County
Beaver Falls, PA (STL.News) Friday, during a visit to the Carnegie Free Library in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA) Executive Director Brandon Carson, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) discussed the Administration’s plans to use more than $1.16 billion in federal funds the Commonwealth will receive to expand broadband and ensure every Pennsylvanian can access the internet. The funding is through the federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program funding and is part of President Biden’s “Internet for All” initiative.
Last week, Governor Shapiro announced that the Commonwealth will receive the funding to extend broadband infrastructure to communities that currently lack reliable, affordable, high-speed internet access in order to connect Pennsylvanians and ensure they can go to school, start and grow businesses, and access telemedicine no matter where they live.
“When Pennsylvanians are connected to reliable broadband, they have better health outcomes, better education outcomes, and better economic outcomes,” said Governor Shapiro. “That’s why we need to invest in broadband right now, to grow our economy and strengthen our communities. Accessible, reliable, affordable broadband is important for every community and every family across this Commonwealth – no matter your zip code. My Administration will continue to work with all our partners at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure that we can deliver real opportunity for every student, business, worker, and community in Pennsylvania.”
The $1.16 billion in BEAD funding to the Commonwealth will be administered by the PBDA – an independent, bipartisan agency created by law in December 2021. The PBDA is in the process of creating a five-year action plan that will put broadband in every community across Pennsylvania.
“This is truly about supporting the people of Pennsylvania and ensuring they have the resources to live prosperous and healthy lives. Everyone should have access to affordable, high-speed internet – and the PBDA is committed to making that a reality,” said Brandon Carson, Executive Director of the PBDA. “Our team has worked hard to make sure Pennsylvania received this historic level of federal funding, and thanks to this support from the Biden Administration and under the leadership of Governor Shapiro, we look forward to connecting communities across the Commonwealth.”
The PBDA worked with Penn State Extension to identify more than 50,000 locations in Pennsylvania that lack access to high-speed internet but weren’t included in the federal government’s initial map. The Federal Communications Commission has upheld 32,000 of those submitted, making those locations eligible for federal BEAD funding and helping to ensure Pennsylvania received its share of the BEAD funding.
The PBDA is now working to complete a five-year action plan for the Commonwealth’s BEAD allocation, which must be submitted to the NTIA by August 12, 2023. Pennsylvania will receive the BEAD funding in 2024 following the NTIA’s approval of the plan. The Authority plans to begin awarding subgrants to approved, eligible applicants in 2024.
“Today we stand marking a once-in-a-lifetime moment, a moment when our generation can stand up and bring opportunity, equity, and access to all, a moment we can bridge the gap and expand infrastructure to every corner of this country,” said NTIA Senior Advisor for External Affairs Barbara Cottam. “We all know today the internet is not a luxury – it’s a necessity. Governor Shapiro understands this and has made providing affordable, reliable high-speed internet a priority of his administration. Importantly, he understands the jobs coming with the internet build out and has already begun providing funding for registered apprenticeship programs to train the workforce. Pennsylvania is thinking ahead.”
Pennsylvanians are encouraged to participate in the community engagement events taking place around the Commonwealth throughout the summer. Feedback will be collected from these events, as well as an online survey, and will be used to help shape broadband programs, including the five-year BEAD action plan.
To date, Pennsylvania has received more than $1.5 billion in federal funding allocations for its broadband efforts. In addition to the BEAD funding, Pennsylvania also received $279 million in funding through the Capital Projects Fund and $6.6 million in federal planning funds in 2022.
Visit the PBDA’s website to learn more about its work to close the digital divide in the Commonwealth.
SOURCE: Pennsylvania Governor