Fetterman Advocates for Better Rural Broadband

U.S. Senate candidate Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman speaks during a meeting of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party State Committee in Harrisburg, Pa., Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Brett Pransky

April 20, 2022

Broadband access is ‘fundamental’ but often unavailable in rural Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman has noticed something as he’s traveled across the state’s 67 counties during his campaign for the US Senate: there are hours at a time when his phone becomes “a brick” or a “paperweight” because the service is so bad.

And that doesn’t just make it hard to be on the campaign trail. 

“You hear stories about parents going to the McDonald’s parking lot, using their wifi to download a book or to do schoolwork,” Fetterman said in a recent video for his Senate campaign.

He also said that makes it hard to successfully run telemedicine programs that can help address shortages in available care, which are often most needed in rural areas with limited access to broadband. Fetterman says broadband internet access is “as fundamental as electricity or running water.”

The FCC estimates that 800,000 residents in Pennsylvania can’t access broadband internet, but data from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania suggests that the number of residents without access might be much higher.

Help is on the way though. A recent $100 million dollar federal investment from the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan created the Pennsylvania Broadband Authority, which is tasked not only with expanding rural access, but also tackling the high costs that keep many from obtaining services even in places where they are widely available.

Of course, how that money is spent depends on who is in power. And the Biden infrastructure plan got support from every Democrat who represents Pennsylvania in Congress, but only one Pennsylvania Republican. So the Pennsylvania Broadband Authority will exist thanks to razor-thin Democratic majorities in the US House and Senate. 

And hopefully soon, fewer Pennsylvanians will have to walk around with bricks in their pockets.


CATEGORIES: Uncategorized


Local News

Related Stories
Share This