(TNS) — HARRISBURG, PA. — Pennsylvania state Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-25) and Reps. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter) and Clint Owlett (R-Bradford/Potter/Tioga) Tuesday applauded the release of $1.5 million in state funds for a rural broadband expansion project.
The funding was awarded to Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative through the state's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project program.
"Quality broadband service is vital to the livelihood of the rural communities we represent, affecting our local economy, educational opportunities and access to health care," Scarnati said. "This is an important and much-needed investment in our future."
The funding will be used by Tri-County Rural Electric to provide broadband service to approximately 1,383 customers in portions of Potter County, including approximately 830 residential, 540 seasonal and 13 commercial customers who currently lack access to adequate Internet speed. It includes the construction of 103.1 miles of fiber, attached above ground on poles owned by the cooperative and in rights of way already acquired by it.
"I commend Tri-County Rural Electric officials for their initiative in addressing the need for broadband service in our communities," Causer said. "In today's world, quality Internet access is becoming just as important as the electric service the cooperatives made possible decades ago. This is great news for our region."
"I want to thank the governor for releasing this funding for the Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative Fiber to Home project," said Owlett. "I was happy to advocate for this injection of funds, which will help improve broadband access for the region. This is a total game changer and just the first step in increasing service to the entire Northern Tier."
Craig Eccher, president and CEO of Tri-County Rural Electric, notes the project is the just the first phase of a long-term effort to boost Internet speeds in the cooperative's service area.
"Our goal is to bring broadband to rural communities just like we brought electricity to them back in the 1930s," Eccher said. "The entire initiative is a six-year project with 2,700 miles of fiber delivering high-speed Internet to our members. We are excited to get started on phase one."
Funding for the project was authorized by lawmakers in the Capital Budget Project Itemization Act.
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