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Companies net $64 million for Cambria, Somerset broadband internet upgrades


A historic investment in broadband internet service across Pennsylvania will bring as much as $64 million for upgrades to Cambria and Somerset counties, state and federal officials said Thursday.


It was the first indication of where broadband funding will be spent locally – and which internet service providers will make the upgrades.


Aerial view of mobile phone cell tower over forested rural area to illustrate lack of broadband internet service. Credit: iStockphoto LP.

That includes several Verizon subsidiaries operating under LLCs, including Verizon North, which received $12.8 million to make improvements in Cambria and Indiana counties and, separately, more than $28 million for projects in Somerset County.

Verizon North is an operating company that formed in 2010 to provide telecommunications to areas such as Greater Johnstown that were previously served by GTE.


Verizon Pennsylvania, another entity, received $9.1 million to upgrade broadband in another section of Cambria, Indiana and Clearfield counties.


Comcast received $4.5 million for upgrades in sections of Cambria and Blair counties that it serves, an award list shows.


“This funding will help close the digital divide in Pennsylvania communities that need it most, rural and urban areas alike,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr.


Casey, Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration and state Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr., R-Richland Township, all announced details about the investment Thursday in separate press releases, saying state, federal and local partners worked with high-speed providers to map out a plan for the upgrades.


“These funds are a testament to the power of collaboration between the private sector, local and state partners,” Langerholc said, calling the announcement a “tremendous step forward” for his 35th District.


“This funding will help close the digital divide in Pennsylvania communities that need it most, rural and urban areas alike.”

Upgrades in Langerholc’s district, which includes Cambria and Clearfield counties and part of Centre County, received $37.4 million, he said.


The private businesses that secured funds Thursday will invest $200 million of their own in Pennsylvania to make the upgrades.


“Together, we have identified the gaps in service and directed resources to ensure reliable high-speed internet in those areas. I’m eager to see the impact these funds will have on our local communities,” Langerholc said.


Pennsylvania received funds for the work through the American Rescue Plan.

State Rep. Carl Metzgar, R-Somerset, and Brandon Carson, former Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission community development director, are members of the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority board that oversaw the planning for and allocation of those funds.


“These projects will leverage historic federal funding and private investment to connect communities to the internet – and the (Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority) will continue working to make this a reality for even more Pennsylvanians.”

“Every home and business in the commonwealth must have access to high-quality broadband for day-to-day productivity and leisure,” Metzgar said.


“These projects will leverage historic federal funding and private investment to connect communities to the internet – and the PBDA will continue working to make this a reality for even more Pennsylvanians,” said Carson.


The projects funded Thursday must meet modern high-speed internet standards, with projects required to add 100 megabits per second upload/download speeds or greater to qualify for funding, state officials said.


“Too many Pennsylvanians don’t have the high-speed internet they need to do their homework, support their small business, or stay connected with loved ones,” Casey said. “Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we’re changing that.”

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