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Broadband for Rural Areas

A local State Senator has introduced a Bill to bring Broadband internet access to rural areas of the State. Working from home and taking classes online have become the norm during the Pandemic, but for residents in rural communities, that may be impossible.

State Senator Wayne Langerholc says Broadband access is essential for business and education and the Pandemic has highlighted problems in many communities. When Schools switched to remote learning in March, students in Cities and Towns with good connectivity options were able to work from home, but Langerholc says that’s not a possibility in many rural areas throughout our region. But it’s also a matter of public safety.

Langerholc says he introduced Senate Bill 835 partially in response to a 2017 train derailment in Hyndman, Bedford County. It’s an area with limited broadband access and Langerholc says that lack of connectivity made coordinating rescue efforts more difficult. The Bill creates a Pilot Grant program giving Broadband internet providers an influx of funding to expand their services into rural areas. Langerholc says Service Providers are often hesitant to move into those areas because of the high costs and low number of customers. He feels the Grant Program would encourage expansion.

The Bill has garnered bipartisan support, passing unanimously in the Senate. It now moves to a vote in the House. Langerholc says he’s optimistic the Bill will pass the House. He’s hopeful the Governor will sign the Bill into Law and giving more Pennsylvanian’s vital access. There’s no definitive timeline as to when rural communities could see Broadband access. If the Governor signs the Bill, Grants will be awarded based on a scoring system that will be released to the public before the application process begins.

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