The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed House Bill 2071 this week, which will help bridge the digital divide when it comes to rural broadband in the state. The bill will establish the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, that will address the lack of reliable broadband service in rural areas. The bill now heads to the governor for his expected approval.
The bill addresses the need for broadband expansion by creating an authoritative body that can implement a statewide broadband plan, and serve as a point of contact for entities that look to expand or start new services. The Broadband Development Authority will also oversee the allocation of federal dollars to these projects.
“We are very pleased to see this crucial bipartisan effort to address our lack of broadband access,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “Rural families and farm businesses have been under served, and the need to have access to high-speed internet is essential to compete and participate in the digital age.”
The bill also puts in place safeguards to ensure that areas that have the slowest internet speeds or lack of access are prioritized, and that money and resources are being distributed to those areas first.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau advocated for the passage of the bill.