Pennsylvania to receive ‘hundreds of millions’ to help fund rural internet expansion

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., recently said Pennsylvania would receive more than $20 million to expand broadband and high-speed Internet access in the southern Alleghenies region.

It’s part of a number of efforts across the state to expand high-speed internet more equitably.

This summer, the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units and Penn State Extension conducted a survey to determine home student Internet access. Its goal was to help school districts identify pockets without internet access and have internet-related data for grant applications, including for the $7.1 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund launched by the Federal Communications Commission in May.

In the summer of 2020, the Westmoreland Library Network partnered with internet provider DQE Communications to extend broadband to 16 community libraries across the county.

Last fall, Murrysville officials began considering using some of the $1.9 million received from the US bailout to expand broadband access in the municipality.

“I think it’s vital,” Murrysville chief administrator Jim Morrison told council members.

The $20 million announced by Casey will pave the way for the expansion of rural broadband infrastructure under the Alleghenies Project, led by Huntingdon County officials in partnership with Fulton and Bedford counties.

Its goal is to deploy the “last mile” Internet – the last stretch of an Internet connection leading directly to a home or business – through a series of fixed hubs that send a wireless Internet signal directly to homes and businesses. businesses without the need for a cable. or telephone line.

“The pandemic has shown us how vital strong and reliable high-speed internet access is for families across the country,” Casey said. “This is just the beginning of the hundreds of millions of dollars coming into the Commonwealth through the Infrastructure Act to better connect Pennsylvanians to the world.”

These hundreds of millions come from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provides nearly $43 billion in subsidies for broadband infrastructure in the United States over the next five years.

More than $14 billion is also being spent on direct subsidies of $30 per month to eligible households to help them purchase broadband services.

In Westmoreland County, 86.5% of households had a computer between 2015 and 2019, according to census data. During this same period, 80% of households had a broadband Internet subscription. In Allegheny, 89% of households had a computer between 2015 and 2019, while nearly 84% had a broadband internet subscription, data exposure.

Patrick Varine is an editor at Tribune-Review. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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