Wolf Administration Discusses How Restore Pennsylvania Can Help Montour County’s Efforts to Expand Broadband Access
Danville, PA – Today, Governor’s Office of Broadband Initiatives Acting Executive Director Sheri Collins joined DRIVE executive director Jennifer Wakeman and other local leaders from around Montour County for a walking tour of areas of Danville affected by lack of high-speed internet access. During the tour, they discussed how the bipartisan Restore Pennsylvania proposal will help areas like Montour County close the digital divide and bring robust broadband access to every resident and business.
“As I travel across Pennsylvania talking to officials and residents about high-speed internet, it becomes more and more clear just how much lack of broadband access impacts people’s everyday lives,” Collins said. “Today’s tour showed some of the progress that Montour County is making, but these communities simply need more funding to continue these efforts and make them large-scale successes. Restore Pennsylvania is the only way we can accomplish that.”
Restore Pennsylvania, the $4.5 billion bipartisan proposal funded through a commonsense severance tax, will provide funding to completely bridge the digital divide in every community in Pennsylvania. Funding will be available to support installation of infrastructure to bring high-speed internet to every corner of the commonwealth.
Data from the Federal Communications Commission show that in northern Montour County alone, less than 200 out of 1,000 households have access to high-speed internet as of 2017. Across Pennsylvania, nearly a million residents lack access to robust, reliable high-speed internet. Lack of access hinders education, health care, emergency services, community development, and business attraction and retention.
Local municipalities cannot fund broadband infrastructure themselves. DRIVE has partnered with Danville-based Geisinger on a pilot project including the installation of four microwave internet distribution towers in Montour County. This project has helped provide additional internet service to the community and can provide a model to other areas in the commonwealth, but more resources are needed to implement this model on a larger scale. If passed into law, Restore Pennsylvania will support every phase of the process, from feasibility testing to connection, at a level far beyond any existing funding mechanisms.
“DRIVE has partnered with Geisinger to improve access to significant portions of Montour County while also providing a secure network for our county government offices, but this pilot program is only a first step,” said Jennifer Wakeman, executive director of DRIVE, which helps create an environment to meet the needs of current and prospective employers in the region. “But it’s clear that significantly more resources are needed for expanded broadband access across the region to improve public safety and enhance the delivery of health care to rural residents.”
Restore Pennsylvania is a statewide plan to aggressively address the commonwealth’s vital infrastructure needs. Funded through a commonsense severance tax, Restore Pennsylvania is the only plan that will help make Pennsylvania a leader in the 21st century.
Michael Gerber, DCED, 717.783.1132