Snyder: It’s high time to expand high-speed Internet service

Snyder: It’s high time to expand high-speed Internet service   

HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – Millions of Pennsylvania residents have access to some form of high-speed broadband Internet access, but the same can’t be said of hundreds of thousands of people who live in rural areas of the state, said Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Westmoreland.

“Despite the passage of measures back in 1993 and 2004 to ensure all areas of our state have access to a modern broadband telecommunications network by 2015, that obviously hasn’t happened and it’s extremely frustrating,” Snyder said. “Pennsylvanians, regardless of where they live, need access to quality, reliable broadband service, and I am dedicated to making that happen.”

Snyder said she has introduced legislation to address several issues related to lack of access in underserved and unserved areas of the state:

  • House Bill 305 would direct the state Department of General Services to conduct an inventory of all state department, agency, commission, or institution-owned communication towers, poles, bridges and facilities to leverage existing assets to provide access to areas without broadband service.
  • House Resolution 63 would direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct an audit of, and investigation into, the compliance by non-rural telecommunications carriers with previous enacted broadband telecommunications laws (Act 67 of 1993 and Act 183 of 2004).
  • House Resolution 64 would establish a bipartisan, bicameral commission to provide recommendations to deploy broadband services.

At a recent House Consumer Affairs Committee meeting, Snyder said her continued efforts to expand broadband service were acknowledged by Gladys Brown, chairman of the state Public Utility Commission. However, with more than 200 Internet providers in Pennsylvania, Snyder noted that more than 800,000 residents – including 520,000 in rural areas – lack broadband service and action is needed to quickly address this disparity.

“School students aren’t able to complete their assignments at home, and companies are less likely to locate in regions of our state without reliable broadband access,” Snyder added. “Hospitals are unable to provide telemedicine or use other advanced technologies to help their patients. These communities shouldn’t wait any longer – the time for action is now.”

House Resolution 63 is currently in the House Consumer Affairs Committee for consideration. House Resolution 64 and H.B. 305 are being considered in the House State Government Committee.