HARRISBURG – Rep. Clint Owlett’s (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) bill to help remove barriers to the expansion of broadband internet service in rural areas is on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature to become law.
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.
“There are many challenges to providing high-speed internet service in rural communities like ours, and one of those is the regulatory red tape that slows down progress and increases costs,” Owlett said. “My bill helps cut through some of that red tape and will go a long way toward helping to bring this much-needed service to the far reaches of our Commonwealth.”
Owlett stressed the bill won’t fix the problem overnight.
“Broadband deployment is still a slow and costly process, but this bill is a significant step in the right direction,” he said. “We are also working on a bill to provide funding to support a variety of efforts.”
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.
If signed by the governor, Owlett’s bill will take effect in 60 days.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives