The federal funding will help Pennsylvania expand broadband in unserved/underserved areas.
Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (Authority) Executive Director Brandon Carson announced the approval of grant guidelines for the Pennsylvania Broadband Infrastructure Program, which will provide $200 million in funding to businesses, non-profits, local government, and economic development organizations. The guidelines will be posted on the Authority’s website on Monday, April 10, 2023 and the application process for this program will open on May 10, 2023.
Too many communities lack access to high-speed internet, and many more cannot afford it. This creates a divide between those who have internet access and those who do not. From day one, Governor Josh Shapiro has said extending and expanding access to broadband across the commonwealth and making connection more reliable and affordable is a top priority of the Shapiro Administration.
The Pennsylvania Broadband Infrastructure Program, funded through the Capital Projects Fund, will fund line extension and development projects, as well as large-scale regional infrastructure projects. Upon completion, projects must deliver service that meets or exceeds symmetrical download and upload speeds of 100 Megabits per second, with prioritization being given to fiber-optic deployment. Projects must include a viable sustainability strategy to maintain, repair, and upgrade networks to ensure their continued operation.
“The Authority is pleased to provide this funding to achieve last-mile connections and increase speed for underserved and unserved regions in Pennsylvania,” said Executive Director Carson. “This is the first grant program the Authority is offering, and we look forward to seeing the impact it makes as we work to close the Commonwealth’s digital divide.”
Key Program requirements include:
- 25-percent match: Federal, state, or local funding received by the applicant is eligible towards the match requirement.
- Grant amounts: The minimum request considered will be $500,000 and the maximum may not exceed $10 million.
- Universal coverage: Applicants are required to ensure that all projects either achieve or are part of a plan to achieve universal broadband for the locality or region.
- Affordability: Applicants must participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program and will be asked to describe and document their digital equity efforts to ensure low- to moderate-income households in the proposed project area will have sustained and affordable access.
- Labor: The Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act may apply to projects funded under this program. Prevailing Wage requirements are generally applicable to grants for construction, demolition, reconstruction, alteration, repair work, renovations, build-out and installation of machinery and equipment more than $25,000.
The application period will begin May 10, 2023, and will close July 10, 2023, at 11:59 PM. The Authority expects to award grants prior to the end of 2023. Funded projects must reach substantial completion―defined as services being delivered to end users―by December 31, 2026. The program will be administered in accordance with U.S. Treasury guidelines and Act 96 of 2021.
For more information about the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, visit the Authority’s website.