PA plan to increase broadband access unveiled

29 November 2022- Governor Tom Wolf announced that the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (Authority) released the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Statewide Broadband Plan (Plan). The Plan addresses both the immediate needs and long-term needs of Pennsylvanians.

“Broadband is as essential today as electricity and water. But there is a digital divide in Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Wolf. “This plan will ensure consistent, affordable, quality statewide broadband to keep children learning, businesses growing, and opportunities abounding for all Pennsylvanians.”

Governor Wolf signed legislation to create the Authority in December 2021. The Authority was created, through bipartisan partnership, to serve as a one stop shop for all things broadband in Pennsylvania and manage more than $100 million in federal funds, working to close Pennsylvania’s digital divide.

The Authority’s Plan to expand broadband across the commonwealth focuses on the challenges and opportunities including improving broadband service infrastructure and availability, digital equity and affordability, device and technology access, and digital literacy and technical support. With a clear picture of the current state of broadband in Pennsylvania outlined—including up to 800,000 unserved Pennsylvanians—the Plan includes actionable steps to achieve universal broadband access.

To meet this high goal, the commonwealth is committed to:

  • Maintaining current and accurate data on unserved and underserved populations,
  • Reducing obstacles to broadband deployment,
  • Supporting and maintaining a skilled workforce,
  • Ensuring devices are made available and affordable,
  • Ensuring multiple affordable service options are available,
  • Ensuring affordable options are sustainable,
  • Providing training so that every person can meet foundational digital literacy skills, and
  • Developing a technical support network.

Additional action items and commitments to addressing the core challenges facing Pennsylvania’s broadband access issues can be found in the Plan, which was unanimously approved by the Authority on November 17.

“Equal access to the internet, regardless of location or income, must be provided if Pennsylvania is to remain competitive,” said Executive Director of the Authority Brandon Carson. “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.”

Governor Wolf has worked to improve broadband access throughout his administration. 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.

The creation of the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority is another step to provide broadband access to all Pennsylvanians and put the commonwealth on a path to a brighter future.