Pennsylvania has a new plan to offer high-speed internet to residents from $0 to $30 a month through the Affordable Connectivity Program.
The Pennsylvania Broadband Investment Incentive Program, worth $35 million dollars rolled out to expand broadband in rural areas in 2018. In 2021 the administration released the Underserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Program to further cement aid to those who lacked quick and reliable internet. With $35 million invested in internet infrastructure, private providers started bidding on services areas of Pennsylvania at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) upcoming Connect America Fund II (CAFII) Auction.
“Broadband access is a necessity today, and that connectivity is critical to ensuring that Pennsylvanians can navigate their lives, whether through work, education, health care, community engagement, and more. Along with access, affordability is also imperative, and the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is making this happen,” Gov. Wolf said. “I’m pleased that the Biden Administration, as well as internet service providers, recognize and share this commitment to broadband access and affordability. Today’s announcement is another step forward for Pennsylvanians who want and deserve this infrastructure.”
Through this program, the Pennsylvania government allocated $35 million of financial aid, with private businesses bidding on service areas in Pennsylvania for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) upcoming Connect America Fund II (CAFII) Auction. Any provider participating in the incentive program was required to exceed the FCC requirements and meet the goal of providing 100Mbps or more service by June 30, 2022.
The program was a partnership between the Office of Broadband Initiatives and PennDOT. According to Pennsylvania Community and Economic Development (PCED), the $35 million of incentive funding was provided through PennDOT to fulfill its strategic goal of supporting intelligent transportation systems, connected vehicle infrastructure, and improving access to PennDOT facilities. This incentivized PennDOT; due to the ability to use current and future network facilities or services. Providers presented many options from all three winning providers. According to PCED the benefits include connections to offices and stockpiles, connectivity for intelligent transportation devices, and access to nearly 400 miles of fiber connectivity for 30 years. The incentive program utilized $17,053,215 of the $35 million made available by PennDOT.
“I am very pleased that PennDOT was able to be innovative in support of the governor’s broadband initiative and partner with three companies to bring high-speed service to rural areas of Pennsylvania,” said Secretary of Transportation Leslie S. Richards. “PennDOT’s funding will help support this effort as well as expedite internet service to many of our offices, field locations and connect critical traffic devices, cameras, and message signs to our Statewide Traffic Control Center in Harrisburg.”
Pennsylvanian and American residents interested can see if they qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program at GetInternet.gov. The Pennsylvanian government has ensured that everyone has access to affordable, fast-quality broadband internet. The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed, and Governor Wolf signed Act 96 in December 2021. The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority will oversee $100 million of federal aid to contribute to developing high-speed broadband access across Pennsylvania.
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