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Fed Approves Pennsylvania’s Plans for Broadband Funding

The federal government’s approval of the second part of the state’s planning document clears the stage for its final proposal. The cycle will unlock nearly $1.2 billion to connect all Pennsylvania residents to the Internet.

City broadband network technology concept. White high speed mobile Internet transmission tower transmit abstract communication signal. 5g wireless connection of telecommunication infrastructure.
(TNS) — Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA) Executive Director Brandon Carson this week announced that the federal Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has approved the Commonwealth's Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Initial Proposal — Volume II.

BEAD is a federal grant program authorized by President Joe Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law which provides each state funding to deploy broadband infrastructure to ensure that everyone has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet service.

In June 2023, Gov. Josh Shapiro and PBDA Executive Director Brandon Carson announced that the Commonwealth will receive more than $1.16 billion in federal BEAD Program funding to expand broadband in unserved and under-served areas to make sure every Pennsylvanian has access to affordable, high-speed Internet.

The BEAD Program requires states to submit five-year action plans to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for approval — and the PBDA completed and submitted its five-year action plan to the NTIA in August 2023, which established Pennsylvania's broadband goals and provided a comprehensive needs assessment for the Commonwealth.

The NTIA approved the PBDA's plan in October 2023.

The NTIA also requires states to complete an Initial Proposal: Volume I & Volume II. The PBDA's Initial Proposal — Volume I, which outlines existing broadband funding, unserved/under-served locations, Community Anchor Institutions, as well as the challenge process for BEAD funding, was approved in February 2024.

This week, the NTIA approved the PBDA's Initial Proposal — Volume II which outlines Pennsylvania's broadband service implementation efforts including local coordination, the sub-grantee selection process, implementation activities, labor standards and workforce readiness, low-cost service options and middle-class affordability.

The approval of Volume II moves the PBDA another step closer to accessing Pennsylvania's BEAD funds and work toward implementation of its BEAD program to provide "Internet for all" in Pennsylvania.

"Since Pennsylvania was awarded $1.16 billion in BEAD funding last summer, the PBDA has been working to provide the resources Pennsylvanians need to make 'Internet for all' a reality across the Commonwealth and close the digital divide in Pennsylvania — and today's NTIA approval of our Volume II is an important milestone in that effort," said Carson. "Now PBDA can take the next steps toward identifying the sub-grantees who will construct the infrastructure necessary to connect the 276,000 households, businesses, schools, and libraries across Pennsylvania who do not have access to broadband at all."

More than 276,000 households, businesses, schools, and libraries don't have access to broadband across Pennsylvania. The Shapiro Administration is working to change that so every Pennsylvanian has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet, which will lead to better health outcomes, better education outcomes, and better economic outcomes.

"Today, Pennsylvania can move its Internet for All efforts from planning to action," said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson. "I congratulate the Pennsylvania State Broadband office for developing a strong proposal for how they will connect all of the state's residents to high-speed Internet service."

With Initial Proposal — Volume II approval, the PBDA now has one year to submit a Final Proposal to the NTIA that details the outcome of the sub-grantee selection process and how the state will ensure service to all unserved and under-served locations. Once that final plan is approved by the NTIA, the PBDA will start a four-year implementation process to connect communities across the Commonwealth.

In addition to $1.16 billion in BEAD funding, the PBDA recently approved $204.1 million in federal Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP) grant awards to 53 projects impacting 42 counties across Pennsylvania. The grants, made to businesses and non-profits, will be matched by more than $200 million in private investment.

The Commonwealth has also received: $45 million through the Multi-Purpose Community Facilities Program for community projects to construct, acquire, or improve facilities that are open to the public and will directly enable work, education, and health monitoring and $20 million to provide technology devices such as laptops for distribution to schools, libraries, municipalities, workforce training organizations, and other non-profits who can make them available to individuals that lack the technology needed to access the Internet.

Meuser supports legislation to detain/deport illegal immigrants who assault law enforcement officers

U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Dallas, this week voted in favor of H.R. 7343 — the Detain and Deport Illegal Aliens Who Assault Cops Act — which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for the detention and deportation of illegal immigrants who assault law enforcement officers.

This legislation is a direct response to the recent attacks on NYPD officers by illegal immigrants in January of this year. At this time, two illegal immigrants who participated in the attack remain at large, while four are out on bail.

If enacted, Meuser said the Detain and Deport Illegal Aliens Who Assault Cops Act would have ensured that these individuals were promptly detained, held during the processing of their cases, and subsequently deported.

Meuser said by swiftly identifying, detaining, and deporting illegal aliens who engage in violent acts against law enforcement, this legislation strengthens public safety.

Furthermore, Meuser said it aims to deter violence against law enforcement by clearly stating that immigration law violations, when coupled with criminal acts against officers, will result in prompt and decisive action.

"Being the son of a former police officer, I will always Back the Blue," Meuser said. "Law enforcement personnel, from rookies to 30-year veterans, are disheartened by the treatment police officers have endured in recent years. Violence against our law enforcement is absolutely unacceptable, especially when it comes from those who are in this country illegally. This legislation, coupled with prosecutors doing their jobs, will ensure public safety, lower the risk of violence against police officers, and guarantee that an illegal immigrant found guilty of such a crime will never gain admittance into the United States in the future."

H.R. 3773 was passed in the House and was referred to the Senate for further consideration.


The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) this week released its Focus on Innovations publication, detailing how the department cut through red tape over the past year to develop more efficient processes, improve safety and save taxpayer dollars.

The Focus on Innovations publication builds on the Governor's commitment to ensuring Pennsylvania is a leader in using commonsense solutions to address the most pressing issues facing communities.

"As technology and best practices change, we're adapting to stay on the cutting edge of innovation in transportation," said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll. "From the ingenuity of the DelCo recycled foamed-glass aggregate that was used to reopen I95 in 12 days to using paperless technologies to deliver on projects ahead of schedule, our team of dedicated public servants work every day to apply the ingenuity necessary to improve safety, save taxpayer dollars, and support Pennsylvania's roads and bridges."

Innovation at PennDOT comes from every level. Employee-driven innovation councils and committees, the State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC), the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Every Day Counts (EDC) Program, and everyday solutions identified and implemented by PennDOT employees, all work together to build better, more efficient, and more intuitive systems to serve all Pennsylvanians and those who travel throughout the Commonwealth.

Highlighted innovations include:

  • A recycled foamed-glass aggregate that was used to open a temporary roadway 12 days after the devastating bridge collapse on I-95 last June.

  • PennDOT's Mentor-Protégé Program aimed at increasing diversity and participation to provide disadvantaged businesses with a pathway to succeed in the transportation industry.

  • Using paperless technologies to transform PennDOT's project delivery process by improving accessibility of project data.

  • Innovative winter maintenance tools that PennDOT is piloting to help make roadways safer for our equipment operators and motorists alike.

  • A Moveable Median Barrier System used to mitigate traffic impacts and reduce overall construction time.

©2024 The Times Leader, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.