Pennsylvania Broadband Initiative Aims to Extend Access to All
"High-speed internet access is essential to growing our economy, expanding educational opportunities for our children, increasing access to modern health care, and improving the safety of our communities," Gov. Tom Wolf said.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced a new initiative March 19 to expand broadband access to businesses and households in Pennsylvania by creating a new office dedicated to ensuring every Pennsylvanian has access to high-speed internet. The new Pennsylvania Broadband Investment Incentive Program will offer incentives to private providers willing to invest in underserved and unserved areas throughout Pennsylvania.
"High-speed internet access is essential to growing our economy, expanding educational opportunities for our children, increasing access to modern health care, and improving the safety of our communities," Wolf said. "For Pennsylvania to succeed, we must close the digital divide ensuring every citizen and business has the access it needs to connect to the ever-expanding digital world in which we live and work."
To lead the initiative, the governor has created the Pennsylvania Office of Broadband Initiatives, which is responsible for developing and executing a statewide strategy to expand access to every Pennsylvanian by the end of 2022, and he appointed Mark Smith as executive director of Broadband Initiatives. Smith, a former Bradford County Commissioner, has been with the Wolf administration since 2015, serving as a deputy chief of staff and director of government affairs and outreach.
According to the governor's office, more than 800,000 Pennsylvanians lack access to robust, reliable, high-speed internet, with more than 520,000 of them living in rural areas.
The Pennsylvania Broadband Investment Incentive Program will offer up to $35 million in financial incentives to private providers bidding on service areas within Pennsylvania in the FCC's upcoming Connect America Fund Phase II (CAFII) Auction. "This is an opportunity to attract investment in many of Pennsylvania's rural areas and to provide service to many unserved residents, businesses, and farmers," Wolf said.