PITTSTON — Gov. Josh Shapiro and Brandon Carson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, on Wednesday highlighted plans to expand broadband access across the state using more than $1.16 billion in funding through the federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program and outlined plans to ensure every Pennsylvanian can access the internet.
Last month, Shapiro announced that Pennsylvania will receive $1.16 billion to expand broadband infrastructure to communities that currently lack reliable, affordable, high-speed internet access.
Luzerne County is one such area where, residents have varying access to broadband services, and more than 7,000 locations are currently unserved or underserved.
“Across Pennsylvania, more than 276,000 households, businesses, schools, and libraries don’t have access to broadband at all – and another 52,000 don’t have access to broadband they can rely on when they need it,” Shapiro said. “Connecting people to high speed, affordable internet, right now, will help grow our economy and strengthen our communities.”
The $1.16 billion in BEAD funding to the Commonwealth will be administered by the PBDA – an independent, bipartisan agency created by law in December 2021. The PBDA is in the process of creating a five-year action plan that will put broadband in every community across Pennsylvania.
“The nearly $1.2 billion in federal funding is a historic win for Pennsylvania and will help provide the resources we need to finally make ‘internet for all’ a reality so Pennsylvanians can live more successful and healthier lives.”
“The nearly $1.2 billion in federal funding is a historic win for Pennsylvania and will help provide the resources we need to finally make ‘internet for all’ a reality so Pennsylvanians can live more successful and healthier lives,” said Carson.
The PBDA worked with Penn State Extension to identify more than 50,000 locations in Pennsylvania that lack access to high-speed internet but weren’t included in the federal government’s initial map. The Federal Communications Commission has upheld 32,000 of those submitted, making those locations eligible for federal BEAD funding.
The PBDA is now working to complete a five-year action plan for Pennsylvania’s BEAD allocation, which will set the vision for the implementation of these funds. Following the NTIA’s approval of the plan, the Commonwealth is expected to receive the BEAD funding in 2024 and the PBDA plans to begin awarding subgrants to approved, eligible applicants in 2024.
Carson continued his push on Thursday in State College, where he and he and Evan Feinman, broadband equity and access deployment program director for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration , hosted a daylong event that brought together partners from federal, state, and local governments as well as industry and other key collaborators to discuss coordination on broadband efforts.