Bringing broadband internet access to rural communities in northeastern Pennsylvania will bring with it opportunities, officials said at a broadband infrastructure event on Wednesday.
Representatives from the Keystone Research Center, the 99% PA campaign, ReImagine Appalachia, Action Together NEPA, and Building Back Together discussed the impact broadband expansion would have on the state of Pennsylvania as well as rural communities during a “Broadband Access Investment in PA” press conference. The group outlined federal funding for broadband expansion that is coming to the state, as well as identified opportunities for additional funding and jobs if the state actively embraces broadband expansion.
“If their people can’t be on Teams, if they can’t work with their supply chains and their businesses and do the things that they need to do, sales, etc., through access to high speed broadband, it won’t happen. The federal investment in broadband infrastructure is a gamechanger for rural areas.” U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) said. “High-speed internet is a necessity nowadays when it comes to work, school, business, and even the delivery of health care services, but at least 394,000 Pennsylvanians lack access to broadband.”
Cartwright said he was pleased by Gov. Tom Wolf’s establishment of the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, which would put the state in a good position to take advantage of the $100 million from the federal Broadband Equity Access & Deployment program.
Speakers at the event discussed the impact the investment would have on businesses.
“Business and industry requires access to high-speed broadband in order to operate, and businesses will not come to these beautiful regions if they can’t conduct business,” said Dr. Susan Boser, a professor of sociology at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, whose work focuses on the impact that the lack of high-speed broadband access has on rural economies, education, and healthcare.