top of page

BEAD funds to impact Huntingdon County


The state is set to receive $1,161,778,272.41 towards the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, according to the Biden-Harris Administration.


While Mike Hain of Jackson Broadband believes everyone should have access to the internet, he also worries that the funds distributed to the state through BEAD might undo all the hard work he and his business partner, Craig Yohn, have already invested in the area.



“We are concerned that while we are working hard (and out of our own pockets) to provide these services to the local community that someone less deserving of the funds may come in and undermine the systems we’ve already created,” said Hain. “We are trying to provide fast, reliable internet at an affordable price because it’s the right thing to do.”


The current timeline for BEAD to be implemented is five years. Hain and Yohn understand that people need reliable, high-speed internet now, not years into the future.


“Having our service has been life-changing for our customers,” said Hain. “It’s affected schooling, working from home and receiving medical attention in a positive way. This is especially important for those who live in the more rural areas.”


The lack of internet in rural areas may force residents to move to more populated areas to receive telemedicine services and to be able to work from home, he said.


“Residents in northern Huntingdon county seek us out to provide for their broadband needs. We are extending our services to them as quickly as our personal funds allow. Quality internet service is especially essential in these very rural areas. We need it now, not in a couple more years.”

“Residents in northern Huntingdon county seek us out to provide for their broadband needs,” said Yohn. “We are extending our services to them as quickly as our personal funds allow. Quality internet service is especially essential in these very rural areas. We need it now, not in a couple more years.”


Hain and Yohn are currently applying for a grant that will allow them to continue helping others in the community in the meantime. They sent a request for a letter of support from the Huntingdon County Planning Commission in May. Because the capital projects fund is highly competitive, the letter of support would greatly improve their odds of receiving the funds.


The funds (available through this grant) are for experts in designing, building and operating a high-speed broadband service infrastructure within the commonwealth. The program prioritizes projects involving broadband networks owned, operated or affiliated with local government nonprofits. It also prioritizes broadband providers that are committed to serving entire communities.



“Every dime of the capital projects fund, should we receive the grant, would go towards the construction of more fibers,” said Hain. “Our fibers have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years. Our first fiber was placed in 1992, and it’s never once failed in the last 31 years.”


Hain explained that these fibers, once installed, will remain an asset to the local communities for many years to come. The construction of more fibers in local areas would allow Jackson Broadband to continue making upgrades as the need for internet evolves. Right now, they offer data, voice, and TV services.


Bigger, publicly-owned companies, like Comcast and Atlantic Broadband, have stockholders that rely on a return on their investment. These stockholders make decisions solely based on the potential for profit and loss.


At Jackson Broadband, a privately-owned company, Hain and Yohn have the freedom to work directly towards the needs of the community. They are able to make decisions based on the right thing to do. They decided to provide TV and internet services to a local fire department at no extra charge because the fire department already pays for the phone service.


“You do the right things for the right reasons and good things happen,” said Hain. “We’re heavily invested in the community because it’s the right thing to do.”


Jackson Broadband charges everyone the same price despite what it might cost to provide the connection to the more rural areas. Jackson Broadband operates with their own personal funds. Hain explained that some of this money comes from his retirement fund.


“You do the right things for the right reasons and good things happen. We’re heavily invested in the community because it’s the right thing to do.”

Before the establishment of Jackson Broadband as a leading internet service provider in Lewistown, Hain was a pioneer in cable modems months ahead of bigger companies like Comcast or Xfinity.


He was working towards interconnecting school districts in Juniata County as early as 1997. Even the district’s kindergarten classrooms had broadband at that time.


In 1999, Hain worked with a local hospital to replace its internet service provider on a deadline of 30 days. The existing ISP was no longer able to provide services.


“I had 30 days to do a deployment of wireless internet services,” said Hain. “I was able to get the hospital connected within that 30 day period. Within six months, they also had direct fiber internet, but they kept the wireless internet as a backup.”


Today, Hain and Yohn continue connecting people to the world via internet at Jackson Broadband.

5 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page