A bill co-sponsored by state Reps. Martin Causer and Pam Snyder that would result in greater broadband access in underserved areas of Pennsylvania overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate, and was signed into law this month. House Bill 2071 creates the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, the first official broadband entity in state history. The Broadband Development Authority will consist of an 11-member governing authority board, charged with creating a statewide broadband plan and distributing grant money for broadband expansion projects in underserved areas of the commonwealth.
“Pennsylvania is expected to receive $100 million dollars through a broadband access program created by the recently passed federal infrastructure bill, with the opportunity to receive additional funding,” Snyder said. “This bill would establish a state office to serve as a clearinghouse for broadband resources to ensure that all communities get the improved service they need.”
The bill also sets minimum broadband speeds that match federal speeds, creates requirements that preserve local input and control on broadband plans and deployment, and expands eligible grant applicants so that more organizations and entities have access to funds, among other provisions.
“For too long, businesses and residents in rural areas have been struggling to access fast internet speeds. In today’s world where so much can be done online, including learning, ‘visiting’ your doctor, paying bills, and accessing news and entertainment, equal access to broadband is more important than ever,” Snyder said. “Passing this bill will help us close the digital divide, ensure all communities have access to affordable broadband, and give Pennsylvanians a greater chance at succeeding in the future.”
Gov. Wolf signed House Bill 2071 on December 22. It is now Act 96 of 2021.