Governor Wolf signs bill to boost broadband internet service

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PENNSYLVANIA (WETM) — On Oct. 29, Rep. Clint Owlett said Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill that would expand broadband internet service.

HARRISBURG – Rep. Clint Owlett’s (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) bill to help remove barriers to the expansion of broadband internet service in rural Pennsylvania has been signed into law by the governor.

“This is great news for our rural communities, including our business owners, school students, teachers, health care providers and patients who need this technology now more than ever due to the pandemic,” Owlett said. “While broadband service can’t be deployed overnight, this is a major step in the right direction that puts us in a better position to extend service into even the most rural areas of our state.”

House Bill 2438 is the product of extensive negotiations to help clear the way for rural electric cooperatives, cable companies or any entity that wants to run broadband cable to provide much-needed, high-speed internet service using the existing infrastructure and easements held by rural electric cooperatives.

“This law has effectively cut through some of the red tape that has been holding us back from better broadband service in rural Pennsylvania,” Owlett said. “We still have work to do, including a bill that would identify funding for expansion projects.”

Senate Bill 835 would create the Unserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Program and fund it, in part, by repealing the Mobile Telecommunications Broadband Investment Tax Credit. This credit is currently limited to $5 million per year and is available to mobile telecommunication providers to invest in broadband equipment in Pennsylvania. Under the bill, the $5 million would instead be directed toward a grant program. The measure also calls for additional state and federal funds to support the effort. It is pending further action in the House.

The law will take effect in 60 days.

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