Butler Eagle: Armstrong receives over $12 million in grants to expand broadband access

The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority announced on Thursday, April 18 that Armstrong Telecommunications has received about $12.47 million in Broadband Infrastructure Program grants for two projects to expand broadband access in the northern part of Butler County.

The grant is part of $204 million the authority awarded to telecommunications providers for 53 broadband improvement projects in 42 counties, which would improve internet access for over 100,000 Pennsylvanians.

Armstrong will match the grant up to 25% by chipping in just over $4.16 million of private investment. This makes for a total allocation of $16.63 million.

Projects funded by the grants are required to deliver download and upload speeds of at least 100 megabits per second.

According to Butler County Commissioner Leslie Osche, who assisted in the grant application, the areas served by these projects are in the Slippery Rock and Moniteau school districts.

“I’m excited for those two school districts and their residents in the northern part of the county, who have been long awaiting broadband,” Osche said.

According to Osche, the Slippery Rock and Moniteau areas were chosen as target areas after many meetings and consultation with Armstrong, as well as guidance from the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission — a metropolitan planning organization which covers 10 counties and the city of Pittsburgh.

“We looked at attacking this by school district, because it’s of critical importance to make sure these students have the ability to connect for virtual learning,” Osche said. “But this was also based on the commission’s road map for connectivity, which helped us identify where people are underserved.”

State lawmakers react

“Improving broadband infrastructure is critical for productivity and overall quality of life,” said state Rep. Stephenie Scialabba, R-12th, in a news release. “This award is transformational, allowing Pennsylvania to close the digital divide between rural and urban areas.”

“There is such a heavy reliance on this crucial service to connect with health care providers, assist with educational needs, and take part in ever evolving telework positions,” said state Sen. Elder Vogel, Jr., R-47th. “This funding will further allow for access to this necessity for our residents and help propel our communities forward.”

“I am grateful for this investment in broadband access in our rural communities,” said state Rep. Tim Bonner, R-17th. “Our students, businesses, families and communities will greatly benefit.”

View the full article at butlereagle.com.