Pennsylvania Secures Over $400 Million to Bridge the Digital Divide

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — To expand high-speed internet access across Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority has approved $204.1 million in grant awards, a significant step toward bridging the digital divide in underserved communities. This funding, championed by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and sourced from the Capitol Projects Fund under the American Rescue Plan, will be supplemented by more than $200 million in private investment. The combined effort represents a total infusion of over $400 million into Pennsylvania’s broadband infrastructure, aiming to extend affordable internet access to over 40,000 homes and businesses throughout the state.

Senator Casey, a vocal advocate for universal high-speed internet, underscored the importance of the initiative: “Too many Pennsylvanians don’t have the high-speed internet they need to do their homework, support their small business, or stay connected with loved ones. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we’re changing that.” This initiative marks a critical step in addressing the connectivity needs of both rural and urban areas within the state, aiming to eliminate the disparities in digital access.

The significance of this investment extends beyond mere connectivity; it is poised to transform educational opportunities, economic development, healthcare access, and community engagement by ensuring that all Pennsylvanians can participate in the digital age. For students in remote areas, high-speed internet can mean the difference between success and struggle in their academic pursuits. For small businesses, it opens up new markets and streamlines operations. And for healthcare, it expands the reach of telemedicine services, especially critical in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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This latest tranche of funding builds on Senator Casey’s ongoing efforts to enhance Pennsylvania’s digital infrastructure. During the Biden administration, Casey has facilitated the delivery of more than $2 billion to the state for high-speed internet projects. This includes a substantial $1.16 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act targeting high-cost, unserved, and underserved communities, as well as over $430 million through the Affordable Connectivity Program and an additional $20 million specifically allocated for the Southern Alleghenies region.

The Capital Projects Fund, established by the American Rescue Plan, has allocated nearly $265 million to Pennsylvania for the development of reliable, affordable broadband infrastructure. These investments are crucial for deploying high-speed internet to areas lacking access, reducing costs for those who find it unaffordable, and ensuring that Pennsylvania’s businesses remain competitive in an increasingly digital economy.

As Pennsylvania embarks on this ambitious project, the implications are vast. Closing the digital divide can lead to a more equitable society where everyone, regardless of their location or economic status, has access to the opportunities that the internet provides. This initiative not only addresses immediate connectivity needs but also lays the groundwork for sustainable growth and innovation across the state.

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