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Washington County, Pa., Approves $3.2M for Internet Expansion

Officials in Washington County have approved $3.2 million in American Rescue Plan funding to expand Internet service to 944 homes and businesses and other locations in two municipalities.

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(TNS) — Washington County commissioners on Thursday approved spending $3.2 million in federal funds to extend broadband service to 944 homes and businesses and other locations in two municipalities, including West Finley Township, which has no Internet service.

Kinetic by Windstream, a subsidiary of Internet service provider Windstream Holdings Inc., of Little Rock, Ark., will administer the fiber broadband project, bringing 1 gigabyte service to 542 locations in West Finley and 402 locations in Bentleyville.

The work will take about two years. The 1 gigabyte service far exceeds the federal minimum speed of 100 megabits per second, which refers to the speed of data transfer.

The total project cost is $5.3 million, but Windstream will be providing $2.1 million in aid for design, engineering and construction costs, according to John Timney, executive director of the Washington County Authority. WCA is managing the county's broadband expansion, which is funded by federal American Rescue Plan money.

Andrew Oberg, superintendent of McGuffey School District, which covers West Finley and eight other municipalities, said the investment would enhance student educational opportunities.

"It will dramatically relieve the very real frustration our students and their families experience when remote instruction is required," Mr. Oberg said in a prepared statement. "This funding is the start of closing the wide educational gap that exists between districts with technology access and those struggling to connect."

Using American Rescue Plan funds, the Washington County Commissioners have awarded $3.3 million in recent weeks to expand Internet access to Avella, Scenery Hill and other parts of the county.

Internet service providers in those projects will contribute over $2.5 million for broadband design, engineering and construction expenses, for a total project value of $5.8 million.

©2022 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.