Snyder measure seeks internet upgrades in underserved areas

At stake is federal funding to address ‘digital divide’

HARRISBURG, Dec. 19 – State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, today said she has introduced legislation urging federal support for preserving funding available to upgrade internet service in underserved areas of Pennsylvania.

“Funding to deploy modern broadband service in southwestern Pennsylvania is sitting in Washington, D.C., because one corporate player will not cooperate,” Snyder said. “My measure urges the Federal Communications Commission to force the issue and help combat the ‘digital divide’ hindering local communities, families and businesses.”

Snyder said her House Resolution 630 urges the FCC to support the joint petition filed by the state Public Utility Commission and Department of Community and Economic Development earlier this year, which would safeguard Connect America funding.

“Millions of dollars from federal universal service surcharges paid by state residents and businesses are earmarked for internet upgrades in Pennsylvania,” Snyder said. “However, Verizon has balked at accepting the funding and committing to meeting federal benchmarks for broadband speed.”

Snyder said that upgrading download speeds of 10 megabytes per second and uploads of 1 megabytes per second – the same service standards that 99 percent of urban residents and businesses already enjoy – would boost the region immeasurably.

“I don’t think that one highly profitable corporation should be stymieing and jeopardizing progress and economic opportunities,” said Snyder, noting that most telephone companies serving Pennsylvania’s high-cost areas have accepted the Connect America funding. “I want the FCC to get off the fence and ensure the funding goes where it was intended and for the improvements it was designed to address.”

Snyder said H.R. 630, which is now before the House Consumer Affairs Committee that she serves on, augments the four-bill package she has introduced to address inadequate internet service. The package includes H.R. 430, which calls for an investigation and audits into telecommunications carriers’ compliance with state laws regarding internet service.