Pennsylvania County Completes $1.1M Broadband Expansion

Cambria County, Pa., announced the completion of a $1.1 million project designed to expand the availability of broadband Internet service in underserved parts of the county's rural northern half.

A farm in rural Pennsylvania
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(TNS) — Cambria County, Pa., officials on Wednesday announced the completion of a $1.1 million project designed to expand the availability of broadband internet service in underserved parts of the county's rural northern half.

County officials and project leaders cut a ribbon at Jim Hite Farms near Chest Springs, one of nine sites where new broadband antennas were put up in a bid to aid farmers, first responders, students and people working from home by providing them with faster internet service.

"Internet service is a major issue for us on the farm, whether it's our drying system communicating information back to us or ordering parts," said Hite.

"We naturally try to deal as local as we can, but a lot of times, if we can't, we need to jump on the internet, get stuff ordered and try to have it for tomorrow."

Each of the nine new sets of antennas provides broadband service in a circle with a radius of approximately 10 miles, said  Nick Weakland , co-owner of Cresson-based internet service provider In the Stix Broadband, which was the sole bidder for the contract.

"We looked at our map and we looked at what we cover now, and we also looked at what the big carriers cover," Weakland said, explaining how project leaders picked sites for the new equipment. "Then we did the inverse of that. We looked at what's not covered, and that's where we focused. ... We targeted those areas that are underserved."

Funding for the project came from Cambria County's share of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money.

Cambria County President Commissioner  Thomas Chernisky  called the project "the first step in expanding broadband throughout Cambria County."

"Our farmers and rural businesses will have an opportunity to operate successful businesses, the same as small businesses in urban and suburban America," Chernisky added. "Folks will be able to complete job applications online, children will be able to do virtual schoolwork and seniors will have the opportunity to use telemedicine to access health care."

Also delivering remarks at the ribbon-cutting were Cambria County Commissioners  B.J. Smith  and  Scott HuntBrian Subich , field representative for U.S. Rep.  Glenn "G.T." Thompson , R- CentreKatie Kinka , senior planner for the Cambria County Planning CommissionArt MartynuskaCambria County Emergency Management Agency coordinator; and  Amy BradleyCambria Regional Chamber president.

(c)2021 The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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