Pennsylvania State Lawmaker Proposes Faster Internet for Rural Residents

The bill would require that retail broadband service provide customers with “at least” 10 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads, nearly seven times higher than the current requirements.

by J.D. Prose, Beaver County Times / October 10, 2016

(TNS) — Prompted by complaints she had heard from constituents during an August hearing on broadband service in Waynesburg, Pa., a Greene County state legislator has introduced a bill to require higher download and upload speeds in rural areas.

“The state standards for high-speed broadband are woefully behind the times, and rural areas deserve the affordable and adequate service that 99 percent of urban residents and businesses already enjoy,” Democratic state Rep. Pam Snyder said in a statement Tuesday.

Snyder’s House Bill 2394 would require that fixed, retail broadband service in the state provide customers with “at least” 10 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads, nearly seven times higher than the current requirements of 1.544 Mbps for downloads and 0.128 Mbps for uploads.

Snyder said the Federal Communications Commission increased speed requirements higher than the Pennsylvania standard five years ago. “Now, the FCC-required speeds are at least 10 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads, and Pennsylvania needs to catch up,” she said.

During a House Consumer Affairs Committee hearing on Waynesburg University on Aug. 17, Greene County residents shared their problems with slow internet speeds that made casual web-surfing, homework assignments and streaming video nearly impossible.

Most of the complaints centered on Windstream Communications, whose representatives at the hearing said the company met service requirements and that broadband speeds can be negatively affected by the number of users accessing the web in a residence or a home’s distance from “serving nodes” in the company’s grid.

“Increasing speeds means that rural Pennsylvanians can tap the benefits provided by broadband through faster web downloads, improved video streamin, and service capable of supporting multiple users in a household,” Snyder said. “This upgrade is crucial to the region’s advancement.”

©2016 the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.