Expanded Access to High-Speed Internet Coming Through Federal Program

By Sherri Martin | Dec. 14, 2020 | 2 min. read

The past year has shown the importance of reliable, high-speed internet access. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to shift to virtual environments, whether for work, school, social engagements or entertainment.

And a virtual environment relies completely on our internet access.

That’s why it’s great news that more than 327,000 Pennsylvanians will gain access to high-speed internet service through a program established by the Federal Communications Commission.

Pennsylvania announced that thirteen internet providers across the commonwealth successfully bid in the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction. Through the program, the FCC will provide funding to providers to expand internet services in underserved areas or those areas that do not have broadband access that meets current federal standards. According to the FCC, nearly 1 million Pennsylvanians lack access to reliable internet services. Funding through the FCC auction program is expected to impact Pennsylvanians in every county.

The announcement of the federal funding comes on the heels of the Pennsylvania General Assembly approving legislation at the end of session to provide for expanded broadband services. House Bill 2438 (Owlett, R-Tioga) allows electric cooperative corporations to provide broadband services over their existing easements while Senate Bill 835 (Langerholc, R-Cambria) establishes a funding program to expand broadband service to unserved areas in Pennsylvania. HB2438 was approved by the General Assembly in October and signed into law as Act 98 of 2020. SB835 was approved in November as Act 132 of 2020. PAR supported both bills.

The National Association of Realtors® also has been very involved with advocating for expanded broadband access across the county. Check out the Realtor® Party website for more information on NAR efforts.

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