Pennsylvania Broadband Initiative

Broadband Investment Incentive Program
About the Initiative
Why High-speed Internet Access is Important for Every Pennsylvanian
What is Broadband?
PA Broadband Initiative Team
Contact Us

Broadband Investment Incentive Program

Pennsylvania’s Broadband Investment Incentive program offers $35 million of financial incentives to internet service providers who are bidding on Pennsylvania service areas in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) upcoming Connect America Fund II Auction (CAF-II). Pennsylvania’s incentives will be targeted to applicants who are willing to bid in the CAF-II Auction with proposals to provide download speeds of 100 Mbps or more, with the highest priority for those projects proposing 1 Gbps or greater speeds.

The FCC’s CAF-II auction will use competitive bidding process to award nearly $1.98 billion of subsidies to those providers interested in providing broadband and services in rural areas in a nationwide auction. Pennsylvania’s incentives will help bidders in the Commonwealth become more competitive in their bids to win a share of this federal support.

The auction presents an opportunity to attract investment in much of Pennsylvania’s rural areas and to provide service to many unserved residents, businesses and farmers.

Important documents

Important dates

  • March 22, 2018
    • Guidelines will be released.
  • March 30, 2018
    • Short Form Applications for CAF-II auction due to FCC.
  • April 2, 2018
    • Applicants may begin to file Preliminary Expressions of Interest.
  • May 4, 2018
    • Last date to file Preliminary Expression of Interest. Applicants may begin to file Qualifications and Final Incentive Requests.
  • June 1, 2018
    • Last date to file Qualifications.
  • June 18, 2018
    • Last date to file Final Incentive Requests.
  • July 10, 2018
    • Commonwealth informs qualified applicants of Incentive Amounts.
  • July 24, 2018
    • FCC CAF 2 Auction begins.

Applicants must file an FCC Short Form to bid in the CAF-II Auction and be eligible for Pennsylvania’s incentives. Interested parties are strongly encouraged to file a Short Form with the FCC for Census Block Groups in Pennsylvania. For more information about the CAF-II Auction and how to participate, visit the FCC’s Connect America Phase II Auction site.

Check back here for more information as it becomes available on the Pennsylvania Broadband Investment Incentive Program, and contact us at the e-mail address below if you’d like to receive Program updates.

About the Initiative

In 2018 Governor Tom Wolf launched his Broadband Initiative, a dedicated effort to provide high-speed internet access to every household and business in Pennsylvania.

We increasingly live in a knowledge-driven economy, making access to high-speed internet essential to our daily lives and our economy. Today, over 800,000 Pennsylvania residents still lack high-speed internet access.

Lack of quality internet access means businesses are not able to market themselves and conduct business online, kids miss out on learning opportunities and healthcare facilities cannot share information with specialists. The Governor’s Office of Broadband Initiatives will work to bridge the digital divide making Pennsylvania a better place to work, do business and live.

The Governor’s Office of Broadband Initiatives:

  • Manages the Governor’s initiative to provide high-speed internet access to all Pennsylvanians.
  • Serves as the Governor’s public advocate for broadband access and utilization.
  • Recommends broadband programs and policies for Pennsylvania.
  • Serves as the point of contact for PA broadband issues.
  • Encourages and advocates for policies that improve Pennsylvania’s Broadband infrastructure.

Why High-speed Internet Access is Important for Every Pennsylvanian

Internet access powers the global economy, provides greater access to healthcare, and is essential to educating our future generations. Governor Tom Wolf is making sure every citizen and business in Pennsylvania has access to high-speed internet.

Business Heathcare Education
High-speed internet access is essential to creating Pennsylvania Jobs. Every citizen deserves access to modern healthcare options. High-speed internet access allows every child the opportunity to learn, succeed and prepare for the global job market.
Pennsylvania businesses must be able to access the global marketplace to be competitive, grow market share, and operate efficiently. High-speed internet keeps our elderly at home with families by providing expanded healthcare options for in home care. Every child should be afforded equal access to online learning opportunities, regardless of location or economic status.
Pennsylvania farmers need access to the full benefits of state of the art technology, information, and equipment. Healthcare providers should be able to share medical records, test results, and patient data efficiently. It’s proven that high-speed internet improves overall academic performance and contributes to higher graduation rates.

“High-Speed Internet access is essential to growing our economy, expanding educational opportunities for our children, increasing access to modern healthcare, and improving the safety of our communities.” — Governor Tom Wolf

What is Broadband?

As defined by the FCC, Broadband or high-speed internet access allows users to access the Internet at significantly higher speeds than those available through “dial-up” services. Broadband speeds vary significantly depending on the technology and level of service. Broadband for residential consumers typically provides faster downstream speeds (from the Internet to your computer) than upstream speeds (from your computer to the Internet).

How Broadband is Delivered:

  • Fiber Optic Cable: Technology that converts signals carrying data through glass fibers.
  • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL): Transmitting data over already installed copper telephone lines
  • Cable Modem: TV cables are utilized to transmit data.
  • Wireless, Fixed or Mobile: Connects devices to a local internet service “over the air” via electromagnetic waves.
  • Satellite: Transfers data through a 2-3′ dish, modem, and clear line of sight to a satellite.

Broadband Speed Defined:

  • Broadband speed is measured in bits per second (bps), which is the speed at which data is transferred.
    • 1 Kbps (kilobits/second) = 1,000 bits per second.
    • 1 Mbps (megabits/second) = 1 million bits per second.
    • 1 Gbps (gigabits/second) = 1 billion bits per second.
  • The current FCC definition of broadband is a speed of at least 25 megabits/second (Mbps) download and at least 3 Mbps upload.

PA Broadband Initiative Team

Mark Smith — Executive DirectorImage of Mark Smith

Mark joined Governor Tom Wolf’s administration in early 2015 as Special Assistant to the Governor for Public Safety.  As a member of the Governor’s Senior Staff he served as the principle advisor to Governor for security and emergency response issues.

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    Mark had the unique opportunity to manage all state planning efforts for the Pope’s historic visit in Philadelphia, the largest National Special Security Event ever held in the United States for a foreign dignitary, and he played the same role for the 2016 Democratic National Convention held in Philadelphia.

    Mark was later named Director of Government Affairs and Outreach where he managed the Governor’s regional offices and managed logistics and advance for the Governor’s travel. Additionally, he served as principal advisor to the Governor on development and implementation of policies related to local governments.

    Most recently Governor Wolf appointed Mark to the position of Executive Director of Broadband Initiatives to develop and execute a state-wide strategy to increase broadband access across Pennsylvania.

    Prior to joining the Wolf Administration, Mark served nearly two terms as county commissioner in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. He has also served on numerous boards and commissions including serving as board member of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP).

    Prior to entering public service, Mark worked as an industrial designer in the automotive and plastics industries.  Mark attended the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, studying industrial design.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, is a certified in project management, and is currently seeking his Masters degree in Management and Leadership.  In 2011, Mark was selected as one of twenty-two County Commissioners from across the nation to attend the National Association of Counties Leadership Institute in Washington D.C. provided by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Emma Winslow — Project AssistantImage of Emma Winslow

Emma is a Project Assistant for the Governor’s Office of Broadband Initiatives, to aid in the development and execution of developing a statewide strategy to increase broadband access.

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    Before joining the Office of Broadband Initiatives, Emma worked for the College of Engineering at Bucknell University. Prior to Academia, she worked as a leasing agent and executive assistant in the oil and gas industry in California, Colorado and most recently Houston, Texas. She graduated from Penn State University in 2009 and is certified in Professional Land Management from the University of Houston.


Contact Us

Emma Winslow — Project Assistant
Email: info.pabroadband@pa.gov
Phone: (717) 783-2896