Companies awarded $6.4 million to deploy broadband in York County

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) presents a citation in commemoration of Austin L. Grove American Legion Post 403's 100th anniversary celebration in Glen Rock, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The Federal Communications Commission has awarded two companies more than $6 million to expand broadband access in York County, state Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill announced Tuesday.

Delaware-based Connect Everyone and California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, will receive a total of $6.4 million from the FCCs' Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The projects will result in 4,078 homes connected to high-speed internet in underserved areas, according to the news release.

“The pandemic has shown just how wide the digital divide truly is in Pennsylvania," Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, said in a statement, specifically citing online education and telemedicine needs.

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Overall, Pennsylvania will receive a total of almost $369 million to support expanding broadband to 184,505 homes and businesses over the next 10 years, the release states.

The investments are made possible by the first phase of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, where bidders are expected to receive $16 billion to deploy broadband networks in total.

That funding is expected to serve more than 10 million Americans over the next decade.

"Providers must meet periodic buildout requirements that will require them to reach all assigned locations by the end of the sixth year," according to the FCC website. "They are incentivized to build out to all locations as fast as possible."

Phillips-Hill has made broadband expansion a priority during her time as both a state representative and senator.

Most recently, the Republican proposed legislation aiming to overhaul state regulations that she argued are outdated and fail to incentivize companies to compete and invest in broadband.

The legislation in October passed the state Senate in a 33-16 vote, with Democrats citing input from the Communication Workers of America in their opposition.

The CWA argued that the legislation was a knee-jerk effort to waive regulations without language that ensures Pennsylvanians would actually benefit and companies are held accountable.

The legislation has since sat in the House Consumer Affairs Committee, and it is unclear when it may see a floor vote.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.