Snyder: PUC rule change would benefit broadband expansion

State seeking to assume jurisdiction over utility pole attachments

CARMICHAELS, June 18 – State Rep. Pam Snyder said the state Public Utility Commission’s recent action to take control of utility pole attachments away from the federal government is a positive outgrowth of her work that procured the governor’s commitment to expanding high-speed internet.   

Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, said the PUC voted to begin rulemaking to allow it to take jurisdiction over pole attachments – a duty that has defaulted to the Federal Communications Commission because the state has not assumed it.

“What we’re seeing is a newfound appetite by the PUC to take over this responsibility, which is welcome news to those of us fighting to bring modern broadband to under-served areas,” Snyder said. “One of the criticisms of federal oversight of pole attachments is that it’s inadequate because of weak enforcement.

“If the commonwealth takes this over, as we hope, Pennsylvania can have more of a direct say in the infrastructure development needed to expand broadband to rural areas. That would benefit residents, hospitals, schools and businesses as they compete in the high-tech era.”

Snyder has partnered with state Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, a York County Republican, in pushing to bring modern broadband internet to 800,000 Pennsylvanians who lack it, many of them living in rural areas.

In addition to introducing a package of bills and resolutions to accomplish that objective, Snyder and Phillips-Hill were invited to the governor’s announcement of his commitment in March. At that time, he announced creation of the Pennsylvania Office of Broadband Initiatives, which is responsible for developing and executing a statewide strategy to expand access to every Pennsylvanian by 2022.

He also announced formation of the Pennsylvania Broadband Investment Incentive Program, which will offer up to $35 million in financial incentives to private bidders in the Federal Communications Commission’s upcoming Connect America Fund Phase II Auction.