Pennsylvania’s rural local exchange carriers (RLECs) are eager to throw their support and decades of expertise behind the implementation of Act 96, the recently enacted law that created the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority. The Authority’s mission is to ensure that every resident and business in Pennsylvania has access to high-speed broadband.
The RLECs, members of the Pennsylvania Telephone Association (PTA), were instrumental in giving broadband deployment initiatives a head start in this state. All the way back in 2004, the RLECs were required under Act 183 to phase-in 100 percent broadband deployment in their coverage areas. They not only met the deadlines imposed under the law, but are exceeding them in wide swaths of the state.
The expertise gained from meeting the requirements of Act 183 make the rural carriers uniquely qualified to offer their support to not only the executive director and staff of the newly created authority, but the agency heads and legislative appointees who will serve on the authority’s board of directors.
It is particularly noteworthy that the General Assembly had the foresight to allow the authority to establish subcommittees composed of members of the board, or nonmembers of the board, to consult with and advise the authority. The PTA member companies have the experience and knowledge to serve on these subcommittees in a variety of areas including agriculture, education and economic development. Moreover, the RLECs have partnered with municipalities to provide services in rural parts of the state, and can provide guidance to ensure that these federal dollars are invested as Congress intended — in unserved and underserved areas of Pennsylvania.