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Commissioners talk broadband

Huntingdon County Commissioners introduced an organization at Tuesday's commissioners meeting that will be working to expand broadband internet services even more to the county.

The organization, Alleghenies Broadband Inc., was formed in October by the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission to focus on bringing broadband internet services to underserved and unserved areas in the six county region of Blair, Bedford, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset counties.

Brandon Carson, executive director of Alleghenies Broadband Inc., explained this was born after SAP&DC conducted surveys of the six-county region in 2020 and realized the issues they needed to look at regarding expansion of high-speed internet.

"This allowed us to have a vehicle in place to take a look at state and federal monies to implement the plans locally," he said.

Carson also noted they have a request for proposals to partner with internet service providers to help utilize those state and federal funds, particularly from the American Rescue Plan, to be able to do that within the six-county region.

"We know right now there are some areas of the county that no provider will come to without supplemental funds," he said. "This is a way for them to do that."

Carson also noted they will likely package projects based on the geography of a particular county, and they will vet each proposal to see if they're viable for the particular needs.

Commissioner Jeff Thomas, who sets on the board of the Alleghenies Broadband Inc. as president, said this is an exciting time for the county.

He also noted he's received phone calls from areas like Blairs Mills and Blacklog discussing the lack of broadband internet coverage, but he hopes people will reach out to see what other areas need coverage.

Commissioner and chair Mark Sather said he is appreciative of the efforts from Alleghenies Broadband Inc, but he also noted the work from Rural Broadband Cooperative and Upwards Broadband, two companies that have started to provide broadband internet services in some underserved and unserved areas of the county.

Requests for proposals will likely be opened after they're due to be returned in early July.

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