According to data collected by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic development almost 40,000 residents within our viewing area are unserved when it comes to having access to reliable high-speed internet connection. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) defines an “unserved” location as one without any broadband service at all or with internet service offering speeds below 25 Mbps. Federal funding provided by the Biden administration to the commonwealth is meant to address this issue, however the process could take up to five years and requires the collaboration of state county leaders.
We spoke with The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, who’s in charge of distributing the funding, about the process and they told us that:
"Counties have been and will continue to be a vital part of expanding internet access across the commonwealth. The PBDA will lean on counties to continue to provide “boots on the ground” information and data about connectivity and equity challenges and barriers across their communities. Additionally, the PBDA will continue engaging community members and business owners, within these counties, for feedback..."
"I know personally of people who’ve come to our meetings who do not have reliable phone landline service no cell service no internet so if they have an emergency they have to leave their house or have somebody else to go to the top of the hill to try to make a cell call. That’s not acceptable."
The PBDA held workshops earlier this month for county leaders to provide input on the program. One of those attending was Dave Glass, a Clearfield County Commissioner.
“We’re hopeful and we’ve been told that we’ll get at least some opportunity to comment on whether we support the proposal or not," said Glass.
Glass also told us about the specific issues rural counties face when it comes to broadband.
“We have a lot of people who don’t have any internet access at all and very limited phone access," said Glass. "I know personally of people who’ve come to our meetings who do not have reliable phone landline service no cell service no internet so if they have an emergency they have to leave their house or have somebody else to go to the top of the hill to try to make a cell call. That’s not acceptable. We’ve got to do better than that You also have the broader issue of we need to be able to have our kids and grandkids stay here and they’re not going to stay here if there’s not broadband access. It’s going to be as important to them as electricity is now for us.”