Obstacles abound as Pennsylvania plans for surge of federal broadband funding

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In the coming years, Pennsylvania will receive more than $1 billion in federal funding to bring high-speed internet access to everyone in the state. It’s a historic opportunity and a serious challenge, according to a new plan from the state Broadband Development Authority that outlines how it will accomplish that goal over the next five years. Here are five obstacles Pennsylvania will have to navigate as it spends the money, according to the authority’s plan:

  1. Workforce Shortages: Pennsylvania will need an estimated 117,000 workers to build new broadband networks. The state’s plan details how low unemployment and a tight labor market could make finding them a challenge.
  2. Supply Chain Problems: Although the global supply chain is rebounding after the disruptions of the pandemic, problems remain, the state plan notes.
  3. Permits: The huge broadband buildout will require a vast number of permits from Pennsylvania’s more than 2,600 municipalities and differences in the way they process them could add costs and slow projects down.
  4. The Cost of an Internet Subscription: Bringing broadband to everyone in the commonwealth won’t improve residents' lives if the service is too expensive, the Broadband Development Authority warns.
  5. Limited Competition Among Providers: More than half the responses to the state survey said residents had no choice of internet service provider. A lack of competition can result in higher prices, the plan notes.

Obstacles abound as Pa. plans for surge of federal broadband funding