The interactive broadband map, online at www.broadbandinpa.com, will become part of a national broadband map that the U.S. Department of Commerce plans to launch in February. A $7.3 million grant from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act paid for the map, which will be updated semi-annually.
"Having high-speed broadband access is critical for the future competitiveness of our state," Burke said. "This map gives users the tools they need to identify broadband access and make educated decisions on where to locate their business or their family. Eventually, the map will even let users find out if the local coffee shop offers broadband access."
The map gives policy makers and state officials a snapshot of where broadband service exists and which areas still need access, Burke noted.
"One of the biggest challenges to expanding broadband access and adoption is knowing what is available," he said. "This map provides critical information to help identify gaps in service so we can implement our statewide broadband plan and meet our access goals."
Recognizing that the value of this tool lies in its accuracy, the map allows for interested parties to comment and provide feedback on the reported broadband coverage, or lack thereof.
Pennsylvania has one of the most aggressive and innovative broadband deployment commitments in the nation. As a result of Act 183 of 2004, every Pennsylvania community will have broadband access through its local telephone company by 2015.
In addition to the $7.3 million grant, the commonwealth has also received a $28.8 million grant from the federal Recovery Act to enhance broadband infrastructure in 32 counties north of Interstate 80. The grant will be used to add broadband capacity to Pennsylvania's statewide public safety radio network, known as PA-STARNet. Local telecommunications companies and Internet service providers will be able to purchase excess capacity at competitive prices to serve residents, schools, businesses and other organizations.
The commonwealth will also leverage PA-STARNet's existing infrastructure by allowing broadband providers to lease space on its towers, helping to reduce the cost of providing access to less-populated regions. Revenue generated by the lease agreements will be used to defray the cost to taxpayers of maintaining the radio network.
In addition, the commonwealth hosted the Pennsylvania Broadband Summit this fall, which brought together hundreds of stakeholders from the fields of public safety, health care, education, telecommunications and all levels of government to discuss broadband access and adoption, the state and national broadband plans, and practical applications of broadband technology.
The commonwealth's broadband stimulus initiatives are a joint effort between Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development and the Office of Administration's Office for Information Technology.
For more information on Pennsylvania's broadband initiatives, visit www.broadbandinpa.com or call 1-866-466-3972. For more information on state broadband activities funded through the federal Recovery Act, visit www.recovery.pa.gov, click on "Opportunities" and "Broadband (Hi-Speed Data Transfer) Opportunities."
Jamie Yates, DCED; 717-783-1132
Dan Egan, OA; 717-772-4237
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development
|Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development
Jamie Yates of the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development
Dan Egan of the Pennsylvania Office of Administration