The state's mountains, forests and river valleys make the deployment of broadband internet services a challenge. This is further complicated by Pennsylvania having around 63,000 farms and 28% of the population living in rural counties.
In 2004, Pennsylvania brought in Act 183, committing its telephone companies to what it considered the most aggressive deployment of broadband service nationally. It aimed to give every area access to DSL and other types of high speed internet service by 2015 at the latest. The Act was backed up by various programs that provided grant funding. Deployment has been through a number of approved internet providers.
Despite these efforts, over 12% of Pennsylvania households still used dial-up from their ISP in 2007. The average download speed in 2009 was 6.5 mbps, an improvement from 4.5 mbps the previous year and putting the state twelfth.
Pennsylvania began to prepare for stimulus funding by creating a Pennsylvania Broadband Initiative and holding a series of public meetings. In August 2009, it submitted applications totaling $108 million that represented various state departments.
AT&T and Verizon both announced expansions to their 3G networks in 2009, with AT&T having spent $775 in the state between 2006 and 2008 while Verizon invested $430 million there in 2008-9. More is needed, with wifi hotspots being well scattered across the state, mainly centered on large urban areas. However, Verizon's fiber optic cable FiOS product is available in Pennsylvania.
In December 2009, Philadelphia announced plans to buy its wireless internet access network, developed by Earthlink in 2006 and then sold when the struggling internet provider pulled out of the business. The plan is to expand the network citywide, use it for public safety purposes and then possibly make it more widely available.
The diverse topography of Pennsylvania is matched by a varied climate that ranges from continental to sub-tropical. The state can suffer severe weather from spring to fall with colder weather in the interior mountainous area and up to 100 inches of snow annually in the west.
Most of the state is rural and it is the leading US producer of mushrooms and the third for Christmas trees. Pennsylvania is home to fifty Fortune 500 companies and a leader in the financial and insurance industries. Harrisburg is the state capital and the four largest cities are Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown and Erie.
You can check for providers using our search function: Philadelphia Internet Service Providers
Cities in Pennsylvania likely to have, or soon to receive, fiber optic cable internet services include Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Upper Darby, Reading, Harrisburg, Scranton and Lancaster. Locations in PA with highest population counts will be targeted first by providers, though relatively high speeds can be achieved with dial-up or DSL through companies such as Netzero and Charter Communications Cable.