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Broadband authority bill awaits governor’s signature

State government is noticing that large swaths of the state are desperately in need of increased access to broadband.

The General Assembly has approved legislation which would create the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority.

“I commend the House and Senate for their efforts to swiftly pass this bill that will help bring high-speed internet to students, businesses and residents across Pennsylvania,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement.

The bill was presented to the governor on Thursday.

The authority that the bill creates would “serve as a single point of contact for parties interested in expanding high-speed internet access and is charged with identifying access to funding sources and coordinating efforts for broadband deployment,” the statement explained.

The legislation’s prime sponsor was the county’s neighboring representative to the east – Martin Causer.

“This represents a major step forward in our broadband deployment efforts across the Northern Tier and other unserved or underserved areas of the Commonwealth,” Causer said in a statement. “High-speed internet access is vital to our efforts to educate our children, help our farmers and business owners stay competitive, and give our doctors and patients another tool to stay healthy.”

“The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority created by this bill will help to manage a minimum of $100 million in federal aid the state will receive for the broadband rollout in a coordinated and strategic way to support the construction of new towers, lines and broadband equipment,” Wolf explained.

“This represents a generational change for many rural communities to close the digital divide, improve equity and cost and bring the opportunities that broadband provides to more homes, schools and businesses.”

Information from the governor’s office indicates that more than 800,000 Pennsylvanians lack access to high-speed internet, 520,000 of which are located in rural areas.

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