Pennsylvania’s $200M Broadband Infrastructure Program: Closing the Digital Divide

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PENNSYLVANIA — Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (Authority) Executive Director Brandon Carson announced that applications are being accepted for the Broadband Infrastructure Program, which will provide a total of $200 million in grants to businesses, non-profits, local government, and economic development organizations to help expand broadband in unserved or underserved areas of the Commonwealth.

Funded through the federal Capital Projects Fund, the Broadband Infrastructure Program will award grants for line extension and development projects, as well as large-scale regional infrastructure projects. Upon completion, projects must deliver service that meets or exceeds symmetrical download and upload speeds of 100 Megabits per second, with prioritization being given to fiber-optic deployment. Projects are also required to include a viable sustainability strategy to maintain, repair, and upgrade networks to ensure their continued operation.

Extending and expanding access to broadband across the commonwealth and making connections more reliable and affordable is a top priority of Governor Josh Shapiro and his Administration.

“This new program is absolutely crucial in helping Pennsylvania ensure our communities have access to high-speed internet,” said Executive Director Carson. “The program will address the digital divide in the Commonwealth by awarding $200 million in grants to achieve last-mile connections and increase speed for underserved and unserved regions in the Commonwealth.”

The application period will close July 10, 2023, at 11:59 PM, and the Authority expects to award grants prior to the end of 2023. Funded projects must reach substantial completion ― defined as services being delivered to end users ― by December 31, 2026. The program will be administered in accordance with U.S. Treasury guidelines and Act 96 of 2021.

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Key program requirements include:

  • 25-percent match: Federal, state, or local funding received by the applicant is eligible towards the match requirement.
  • Grant amounts: The minimum request considered will be $500,000 and the maximum may not exceed $10 million.
  • Universal coverage: Applicants are required to ensure that all projects either achieve or are part of a plan to achieve universal broadband for the locality or region.
  • Affordability: Applicants must participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program and will be asked to describe and document their digital equity efforts to ensure low- to moderate-income households in the proposed project area will have sustained and affordable access.
  • Labor: The Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act may apply to projects funded under this program. Prevailing Wage requirements are generally applicable to grants for construction, demolition, reconstruction, alteration, repair work, renovations, build-out and installation of machinery and equipment more than $25,000.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, visit the Authority’s website. For more information about the Department of Community and Economic Development, visit the DCED website.

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