Major Providers Take Home More Than Two Thirds of Pennsylvania CPF Grants


The state awarded $204 million for expanding broadband infrastructure.

Jake Neenan Major Providers Take Home More Than Two Thirds of Pennsylvania CPF Grants Photo of Uri Manson, Pennsylvania Secretary of the Budget, from the state’s budget office

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2024 – The Pennsylvania broadband office announced on April 18 more than $200 million in broadband grants, with major providers receiving more than two thirds of the funding.

Verizon, Comcast, Windstream, Frontier, and Brightspeed are set to take home more than $156 million of the $204 million pot, with Verizon receiving the most at $78.4 million. Nonprofits and local governments were able to apply, but none were awarded funding. Half a dozen local providers saw $35 million in total. 

Awardees are collectively putting up another $200 million in project costs.

The 53 total projects are set to serve 40,000 homes and businesses across 42 counties with new infrastructure. Per program rules, projects will have to be completed by the end of 2026 and provide at least 100 megabits per second upload and download.

“Across the Commonwealth, more than 276,000 households, businesses, schools, and libraries don’t have access to broadband,” Uri Monson, Pennsylvania’s budget secretary and chairman of the PBDA board, said in a statement. “To create more opportunity for all Pennsylvanians, we must expand access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet.”

Pennsylvania’s Broadband Infrastructure Program allowed applicants to bid for areas set to be served by the FCC’s RDOF program in an effort to “accelerate broadband access in RDOF-awarded areas,” according to the program guidelines. RDOF awardees could fend off a potential overbuild from BIP by entering an agreement with the state committing to meet its build out requirements Applications were successfully challenged on the basis of enforceable commitments, but it’s not clear how many were related to RDOF.

The RDOF program has been plagued by defaults since the FCC held a reverse auction in 2020, with more than a third of the originally awarded funds surrendered. Advocates are calling on the agency to lessen penalties for defaulting in an effort to get commitments off the books ahead of the Biden administration’s $42.5-billion broadband expansion effort.

The money for Pennsylvania’s BIP program comes from its $279 Capital Projects Fund allocation, $204 of which the state set aside for BIP. Another $20 million of that is set to provide anchor institutions and nonprofits with computers and other devices.

Stood up with the American Rescue Plan Act as a pandemic response, the CPF has so far allocated more than $9.2 billion to states for expanding broadband infrastructure and subsidizing devices in low-income areas. Another $800 million is still set to be handed out in future awards.

Pennsylvania was also allocated $1.2 billion for broadband expansion through the Infrastructure Act’s $42.5-billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program. The state’s broadband office is planning to start accepting challenges to its broadband coverage data for that program this spring, and open grant applications “later in 2024.” 

PBDA is holding a webinar on participating in the challenge process this week on April 25.