Infrastructure Act Broadband Fund to Support Rural Pennsylvanians

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The trillion-dollar infrastructure bill passed by Congress last month provides $ 65 billion to provide rural and low-income communities with better Internet access.

Pennsylvanians see the Internet as a necessity for their economic future.

In Huntingdon County, problems with the Internet led to the creation of the Rural Broadband Cooperative, a small nonprofit that built a radio tower on a nearby mountain to provide wireless Internet to the central Pennsylvania region.

Henry McCreary, general manager of the Rural Broadband Cooperative, said based on customer anecdotes, the infrastructure bill could help families with students who have struggled to connect during COVID.

“Mom had to drive the kids 15 miles to the grandmother’s house every day so the kids could access the internet to do their homework, which was a real burden for them for many reasons,” says McCreary.

The cooperative now has up to 250 customers and is growing. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will allocate an estimated $ 100 million to Pennsylvania over the next five years to improve broadband connectivity across the Commonwealth. An estimated 394,000 Pennsylvania lacking internet coverage.

In Juniata County, 26% of households do not have broadband access, according to the US Census.

Vince Giordano, director of the Juniata County Library, said many residents depend on them to get online. He said the library’s mobile hotspots have been used about 250 times so far this year. Giordano argued that the adoption of broadband in Juniata County was critical to its future.

“Pennsylvania is a big state. And I think if rural areas want to be successful, they need the internet, ”said Giordano. “And if they don’t excel, people will leave. Even good internet can allow people to work from home and do remote work. But if people don’t have internet, they can’t really do that. “

Juniata County’s population decreased by approximately eleven hundred people between 2010 and 2020, according to the US Census. With the Infrastructure Package, 23% of Pennsylvanians are eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Program, which helps low-income families pay for Internet access.


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