Legislation that would create a grant program to extend deployment of broadband services in underserved areas of the state earned final approval in the Senate today and was sent to the governor to be signed into law, according to Senator Dan Laughlin who supported the bill.
Senate Bill 835 would provide funding to improve access to high-speed broadband internet in rural areas of Pennsylvania, which currently do not have access to reliable networks. The bill creates the Unserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Program, which will provide funding to nongovernmental entities to build and operate a high-speed broadband service in underserved communities.
Funding would be provided only to entities that have demonstrated the ability to construct and administer internet services. Grant recipients would be required to provide at least 25 percent of the funding for the project.
Access to broadband has become even more crucial during the COVID-19 health crisis, connecting residents with services and information they would otherwise not have access to. It is also important to those who tele-work, senior citizens, fire and emergency workers and students who are taking classes remotely, Senator Laughlin said.
The new grant program would be administered by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.
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