Gov. Shapiro Announces Over $1 Billion in Federal Funding to Expand Internet Access

Gov. Josh Shapiro speaking at the Carnegie Free Library in Beaver Falls on July 7, 2023. (Photo provided by Commonwealth Media Services)

By Sean Kitchen

July 10, 2023

Pennsylvania received $1.16 billion from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand broadband access in rural communities across the commonwealth. The funding comes from the Internet for All initiative.

Gov. Josh Shapiro on Friday visited the Carnegie Free Library in Beaver Falls to discuss his administration’s plans to use more than $1.16 billion in federal funding to expand broadband access across the commonwealth.

The federal investment is part of President Joe Biden’s “Internet for All ” initiative, and the grant comes from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program created and funded under Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

The funding will be administered through the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA), which was created in December 2021 and is in the process of creating a five-year plan to install broadband across Pennsylvania.  

“When Pennsylvanians are connected to reliable broadband, they have better health outcomes, better education outcomes, and better economic outcomes,” Shapiro said in a statement.

“That’s why we need to invest in broadband, right now, to grow our economy and strengthen our communities,” the governor continued. “Accessible, reliable, affordable broadband is important for every community and every family across this Commonwealth – no matter your zip code. My Administration will continue to work with all our partners at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure that we can deliver real opportunity for every student, business, worker, and community in Pennsylvania.”

Roughly 20% of Pennsylvania’s households didn’t have access to high-speed internet prior to the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Rural counties such as Forest, Fulton and Mifflin Counties had the highest percentage of residents without broadband. 

At the time, close to a quarter of Philadelphia’s households, or 139,241 households, did not have high speed internet. On top of expanding broadband infrastructure, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law established the Affordable Connectivity Program, which subsidizes internet service for families who have access but can’t afford high-speed internet. 

The law included $65 billion in funding for the Internet for All initiative and funds are administered through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NITA). 

According to the White House, there are more than 8.5 million households and small businesses in parts of the country that do not have access to broadband. In late June, the Department of Commerce announced $42.45 billion in funding to states through the BEAD program, including Pennsylvania’s allocation. 

In total, 19 states, including Pennsylvania, received over $1 billion in grants to make broadband more accessible in rural communities. 

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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