Pennsylvania is receiving $6.6 million from President Joe Biden’s “Internet for All” initiative, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday.
Of the more than $100 million to be managed by the Pennsylvania Broadband Authority, the funds are the first to be awarded as Pennsylvania looks to make broadband accessible and affordable for all residents.
Wolf said the state’s lack of affordable, accessible broadband represents one of the largest challenges that is holding back the economy.
“This $6.6 million is the beginning of a generational change waiting for Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said in a statement. “With guidance from the Pennsylvania Broadband Authority, distribution will be carefully targeted for guaranteed progress.”
Funding from two programs is included in Pennsylvania’s award:
The Pennsylvania Broadband Authority will release the funds. The Authority last week released the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Statewide Broadband Plan to address the immediate and long-term needs of state residents. Wolf signed the legislation to create the Authority in 2021. 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 as it works to end the state’s digital divide.
With up to 80,000 Pennsylvanians currently unserved by broadband, the Authority’s Plan focuses on actionable steps to achieve broadband access for all. The Plan looks to improve broadband service infrastructure and availability, digital equity and affordability, device and technology access, and digital literacy and technical support.
U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Pennsylvanians know that unequal Internet access equates to unequal access to economic, educational, and healthcare services and opportunities.
“These grants will put Pennsylvania on the path to equitably achieve high-speed internet service for all residents,” said Raimondo.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey, D-PA, noted that from rural areas to densely populated cities, many Pennsylvanians are struggling to access affordable, reliable internet.
“This ‘Internet for All’ funding will kickstart the commonwealth’s plan to bring high-speed internet to Pennsylvanians so that kids can do their homework, businesses can grow their operations, and workers can have more opportunities for good-paying jobs,” Casey said.
“We have the infrastructure law to thank for this robust investment that will lead to a boost in the economy, increased access to health care and educational resources, and better-connected families and communities.”