EBENSBURG, Pa. – Cambria County on Thursday joined other regional counties in agreeing to pay a $50,000 share in the costs of a study that will look at the broadband internet needs of the region.
The six-county study would determine what it would take to build an expansive fiber optic “ring” from Cambria County to Fulton County.
Bids for the study will be sought by Alleghenies Broadband Inc., a nonprofit formed by Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntington and Somerset counties to pursue efforts to improve broadband service.
“We’re essentially paying for the portion of the study that is equally divided by the six counties, and then anything we would do based off of that would come from Cambria County and go toward the broadband construction for Cambria County,” Commissioner Scott Hunt said.
Commissioner William “B.J.” Smith said he received emails from a company that’s interested in installing fiber optic cable in the county and asked if the company could be responsible for the cost.
President Commissioner Thomas Chernisky and Emergency Management Agency coordinator Art Martynuska, who sits on the board of Alleghenies Broadband Inc., said involving a company to install a fiber optic network would come after a plan is established.
“This is to get the study done showing how the network would be built,” Martynuska said. “After that, it’s going to be based on people coming to Southern Alleghenies (Planning and Development Commission) or to (Alleghenies Broadband Inc.) … and saying, ‘Look, we’re going to follow your design and we’re going to put the skin in the game to build it.’ ”
The Somerset County commissioners approved joining the study earlier this month. Somerset County’s portion of the study will also be paid with American Rescue Plan dollars.