Our opinion: Build broadband, worry later

When it comes to affordable internet in Pennsylvania, do state residents need the chicken or the egg?

The chicken is broadband internet infrastructure. The egg, on the other hand, is a subsidy to access that broadband internet infrastructure. .

That’s really the question to keep in mind as Democrats in the state House of Representatives make a pitch for a state version of the federal Affordable Connectivity Program, which provided households $30 a month toward broadband internet service. The program was used by more than 700,000 households across Pennsylvania and nearly 2,000 in Warren County.

The use of the federal ACP shows there is a market for affordable internet. Imagine, though, how many people may have used the federal internet subsidy if Pennsylvania had a fully built out broadband internet infrastructure. A Penn State University professor’s map of broadband access showed more than half of Pennsylvania receives residential broadband coverage below 100 Mbps, and 25% averages less than 25 Mbps. As of last July, Gov. Josh Shapiro said there are 7,500 locations in Warren County alone that don’t have reliable internet.

In our opinion, before we give people the internet egg, the state should spend its money providing the internet chicken.

Until everyone in the state has broadband internet access, state lawmakers won’t know how much of a subsidy is needed.


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