Gov. Rendell’s Initiatives Will Expand Broadband Access in Pa.

HARRISBURG – (PRNewswire) – Gov. Edward G. Rendell Thursday said the commonwealth is implementing programs to accelerate the delivery of high-speed Internet to every Pennsylvania community as quickly as possible.

As a result of Act 183, providers across the state have made some aggressive commitments on deploying broadband service.

“Providing high-speed Internet access, which allows for the speedy transmission of data and other information, is critical for our businesses to compete in global markets. Our students also need broadband service, which will enhance instruction, raise student achievement and prepare our students to compete for the very best jobs with their peers from around the world,” Rendell said. “I want the smallest towns and villages in Pennsylvania to have the same high-speed access as our cities. We are connecting Lake Wynonah, Shohola, Spring Mills and Corsica to the global community.”

In an effort to boost awareness of the benefits of broadband service, Rendell announced the release of guidelines for the Broadband Outreach and Aggregation Fund program. This program is designed to provide funding for communities to promote broadband service and to build demand. It will be administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development.

“We want to make people aware of the benefits of broadband service, a technology that opens a ‘highway’ to a world of exploration, education and business opportunities. Such high-speed data transmission is no longer a convenience, it is a necessity,” the governor said.

It is projected that $2.3 million will be available for BOAF grants in its first year, fiscal year 2006-07.

Rendell also announced the implementation of the Bona Fide Retail Request program that will provide rural communities without broadband the ability to direct particular providers to deploy broadband service if certain levels of demand are met. If the threshold is met, service must be delivered to the community within one year. The threshold for communities is 50 potential customers or 25 percent of the total customers available, whichever is less.

“We are putting Pennsylvanians in the driver’s seat, allowing a community with a known interest for broadband service to receive that service within a year after sufficient consumer interest has been identified,” Rendell said. “The Bona Fide program is our good-faith approach of matching broadband providers with a valuable pool of interested consumers. As of today 27 communities have taken advantage of the BFRR program and will enjoy the benefits of broadband.”

Both broadband initiatives were made possible by Act 183 of 2004, commonly referred to as Chapter 30.

The Governor also said local governments should complete the municipal cable franchise survey to access the status and impact of cable franchising. The survey can be found throught the Pennsylvania Portal.
Saturday is the final day to complete the survey.

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