DiSanto: Senate Sends Broadband Expansion Bill to the Governor

HARRISBURG – 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 John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry), 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.

“High-speed broadband internet can no longer be considered a luxury,” said DiSanto. “It’s increasingly how commerce and communication take place. This new funding initiative aims to ensure, in a fiscally responsible manner, that this basic infrastructure reaches every community.”

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 especially critical during the COVID-19 health crisis, connecting residents with services and information they would otherwise not have access to. It is essential to those who now tele-work and students who are taking classes remotely, DiSanto said.

The new grant program would be administered by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov (717) 787-6801