Governor Tom Wolf today announced that more than 327,000 Pennsylvanians will gain access to high-speed internet service through the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction.
Thirteen providers in Pennsylvania successfully bid in the auction and will provide high-speed internet access in locations across the state that are underserved or do not have access to broadband that meets current federal standard. The FCC will allocate $368.7 million to these providers over the next 10 years. Virtually every Pennsylvania county will benefit from the broadband build out supported by this funding.
“In the 21st century, reliable high-speed internet service is a critical utility for homes and businesses alike. The lack of this technology in our communities inhibits our students and educators, businesses, the healthcare system and more from truly connecting locally and globally. If we want to support our economy, give our students the tools to learn, and improve quality of life, we must expand broadband access,” Gov. Wolf said. “The current pandemic has vividly demonstrated the pressing need to expand high speed internet access to enable telehealth and allow students to connect with their classmates and teachers. As a result of this auction, hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians will gain this access, which is a significant step toward bridging the digital divide.”
The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund is an effort by the FCC to ensure high-speed internet access in underserved communities. In total, the FCC will allocate $9.2 billion to 180 bidders, who will deploy high-speed broadband to more than 5.2 million unserved homes and businesses across the country.
Nearly a million Pennsylvanians lack access to reliable high-speed internet access, according to the FCC. Ensuring that all Pennsylvanians have access to high-speed internet access is a top priority of the Wolf Administration. The governor’s Restore Pennsylvania plan, a $4.5 billion bipartisan proposal funded through a commonsense severance tax, would provide funding to completely bridge the digital divide in every community in Pennsylvania. Funding would be available to support installation of infrastructure to bring high speed internet to every corner of the commonwealth.
Similarly, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has also strongly advocated for universal access to broadband and a presence in the federal auction process.
“I commend the Public Utility Commissioners for their strong leadership in expanding broadband to underserved areas, and pursuing every available dollar for the state, as well as the many stakeholders–including particularly Penn State University’s Rural Extension Program–that have helped to lay groundwork to ensure the success of bidders in the most recent auction.” Gov. Wolf said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Commissioners, Penn State, and other committed stakeholders to make progress towards our goal of universal broadband access across the commonwealth.”