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June 26, 2023

Over $1 billion of federal funding will expand broadband internet access in Pa.

Pennsylvania, where nearly 15% of households lack broadband internet, is among 19 states to receive more than $1 billion; New Jersey is getting $263.7 million

Pennsylvania will receive $1.16 billion to expand high-speed internet access across the state and close the "digital divide" that has left one in six Pennsylvania households without broadband.

The White House announced the federal funding, which is drawn from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, on Monday. Through BEAD's $42.45 billion allotment, New Jersey will receive $263.7 million and Delaware will receive $107.7 million.

Pennsylvania was one of 19 states to receive more than $1 billion in funding.

According to U.S. Census data, 14.2% of Pennsylvania households do not have broadband access, and the breakdown is even starker by county. For instance, while only 7.9% of households in Bucks County lack broadband access, the share is 24.1% in Union County and 34.3% in Forest County. In Philadelphia, 16.9% of households lack broadband access.

The picture is better in New Jersey, where only 10.6% of households do not have broadband access. Cumberland and Ocean counties have worse rates, with 15.1% of households lacking access. Essex County has the highest rate at 16%.

"Nowadays, reliable, broadband internet access is almost as fundamental as electricity or running water," Sen. John Fetterman said in a statement. "We can't let our rural and other underserved communities get left behind due to lack of broadband access."

The goal of the BEAD program is to connect all U.S. households to high-speed internet access by 2030, meaning they will have download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps. But there is concern over how everyone will be counted. Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reported that counties scrambled to submit maps of underserved areas for funding on tight deadlines, and some experts now believe hundreds, potentially even thousands, of homes may have been lost in the shuffle.

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