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Will York County Be Home to Pennsylvania’s First Gigabit Community?

The initiative is part of a local data company's plan to build a 367-mile fiber-optic network that will increase internet speeds up to 1,000 megabytes per second.

(TNS) -- A $1.5 million state grant will boost a local data company's efforts to make York, Pa., a gigabit community that would offer Internet users ultra-high speed connectivity.

Launched locally by United Fiber & Data, the broadband initiative would create data speeds 100 times faster than what consumers experience now. Founders of the data company want York to be Pennsylvania's first such community.

Increased Internet speeds — up to 1,000 megabytes per second — that could spread beyond the city will spur economic development, said Selena Sparks, marketing officer for United Fiber & Data, who also noted the potential for increased jobs, incomes, property values and GDP as a result of bolstered broadband infrastructure.

"When electricity was invented, no one could conceive what would happen as a result of that," she said. "When we set the stage for these data speeds, the innovation to come is inconceivable."

The initiative is part of United Fiber & Data's plan to build a 367-mile fiber-optic network along the northeast corridor, from New York City to Washington, D.C., that company officials say will bring 400 jobs to Pennsylvania and generate $2 billion in tax revenue over the next 30 years.

The northeast corridor, Sparks said, garners the same amount of venture capital as Silicon Valley. Collectively, the two regions account for almost two-thirds of the country's emerging companies, she said.

Funded by the state Department of Community and Economic Development's Broadband Outreach & Aggregation Fund, the grant will be used to support outreach campaigns and activities associated with deploying seven gigabit communities in the state, according to the state agency's communications office.

Two years ago, the Federal Communications Commission challenged every state in the country to have at least one "ultra-fast" gigabit Internet community by 2015. The FCC wanted to expand the reach of robust, affordable broadband by streamlining access to utility poles and rights of way, and improving policies for wireless facilities.

But that broadband deployment is not keeping pace, the FCC said in a release earlier this year. There are 55 million Americans, or 17 percent of the country's populace, that lack access to advanced broadband, according to the release that noted a "digital divide" between urban and rural America.

©2015 York Daily Record (York, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.