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Statewide broadband expansion effort awarded $600K grant

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

Pennsylvania will see a coordinated statewide effort to expand high-speed internet access thanks to a $600,000 grant made possible by strong legislative support in the Pennsylvania state House and Senate.

The Keystone Communities grant was awarded to the seven Local Development Districts (LDDs) that serve 52 Pennsylvania counties. The grant complements a previous $600,000 Appalachian Regional Commission POWER broadband grant supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) awarded to the LDDs to undertake broadband expansion throughout the state.

The LDDs are multi-county organizations providing services such as community and economic development, transportation, international trade, strategic planning, and much more. Counties share information through their LDD, respond to common concerns, and develop solutions to today’s critical issues. For over 40 years, Pennsylvania’s LDDs have taken the lead in community and business initiatives, coordinating and delivering services on behalf of their member counties as well as the Commonwealth.

Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission (SAP&DC) is one of the seven LDDs and serves six counties. SAP&DC’s share of the Keystone Communities grant is $108,000.

The LDDs will coordinate to identify areas of Pennsylvania that need broadband and then expand coverage by either providing it or incentivizing internet service providers to expand service.

As a result, broadband will be expanded to a total of 410 businesses, 860 homes, and 13 communities throughout the LDDs’ statewide regions.

The LDDs that will identify areas that need broadband are Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance, Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission, and Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.

The following LDDs have identified underserved areas and will expand broadband service: North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG), and Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission.

All projects are anticipated to be completed over the next 12 to 18 months.

Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission Partners with Alleghenies Broadband, Inc. to implement wireless internet service projects in three underserved areas in the region.

Alleghenies Broadband, Inc. (ABI) is a newly formed non-profit organization with the purpose of supporting the development of broadband infrastructure to ensure residents and businesses have access to reliable, high-speed internet service. ABI will work to enhance infrastructure through public-private partnerships to deliver high-speed internet to rural areas that currently lack connectivity.

A matching grant from Appalachian Regional Commission will be used to purchase the wireless equipment for three existing tower sites and ABI will partner with one or more private wireless internet service providers to deliver high-speed internet services to these rural areas.

The locations of the three sites are as follows:

  • Deployment Site 1: North East Somerset County

  • Deployment Site 2: South East Somerset County/potentially parts of Western Bedford County

  • Deployment Site 3: Eastern Huntingdon County

In total, the population of these underserved areas is more than 4,000 residents that currently lack adequate broadband service. The proposed wireless networks will provide speeds of up to 100 Mbps, with a minimum of at least 25/3 Mbps available.

Steve Howsare, SAP&DC executive director, was grateful for the support from the Pennsylvania state House and Senate members that worked to secure the funding for the effort. “We appreciate the support from our legislators including, Rep. Irvin, Rep. Metzgar, Rep. Topper, Sen. Langerholc, Sen. Stefano, and Sen. Ward. We’re looking forward to partnering with Alleghenies Broadband, Inc. to complete the project.”

Brandon Carson, ABI executive director, thanked the state legislators for their support and indicated that funding for the wireless projects is an important step in addressing the connectivity problems in the region. Carson said, “This funding is critical as we begin to implement connectivity projects that were identified as part of a recent broadband infrastructure analysis of the region. ABI looks forward to continuing to work closely with our elected officials and other partners to ensure our rural communities have the access they need.”

About Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission (SAP&DC)

The Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission (SAP&DC) [] is a non-profit regional economic and community development organization serving Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset Counties. SAP&DC’s mission is to address human resource development, encourage the creation and retention of jobs, and to improve the quality of life for residents of the Alleghenies.

About Alleghenies Broadband, Inc. (ABI)

Alleghenies Broadband, Inc. (ABI) is a non-profit organization with a mission of ensuring that residents and businesses in the Southern Alleghenies region (Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon, and Somerset Counties) have access to reliable broadband service. In partnering with local public and private organizations, ABI aims to ensure that rural communities have the same access to high-quality internet service as those living in urban areas.

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