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Webb Weekly is a family-oriented newspaper direct mailed to over 58,000 homes each week.

Webb Weekly

280 Kane St. STE #2
South Williamsport, PA
United States

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County Hall Corner: Broadening the Broadband

The study of history is not as appreciated as it once was, but there are some important lessons to be learned from the past. One of these is from the process of economic development in the rural areas of the United States that took place in the early to middle part of the 20th century.

The study of history is not as appreciated as it once was, but there are some important lessons to be learned from the past. One of these is from the process of economic development in the rural areas of the United States that took place in the early to middle part of the 20th century. What kept these country homes and villages from developing was the lack of energy and convenient means of transportation. Pennsylvania was aggressive in providing paved roads to the outlying areas, and the interstate network that began under President Eisenhower linked the country together in a way it never was before. Suddenly, isolated areas got connected with the rest of the world.

But as critical as transportation was for a country that sprawled from sea to shining sea, energy was also needed, especially electricity. Amazingly, electricity was in general usage in urban areas for decades and decades before it was commonplace in the rural areas. Until homes, farms, and small businesses in the country got electricity, these rural areas were literally locked in the dark ages.

Lycoming County is in a somewhat similar situation today, but not in matters of energy or transportation, but information. Access to the internet, GPS, cellphone service, etc., which is generally described with the shorthand term, “broadband,” is widely available in the greater Williamsport area. However, heading off very far to the north, south, east, or west from that bubble, there is a noticeable drop-off in accessibility. Just as the lack of transportation and electricity limited the progress of rural areas of America in the past, there is a similar issue with access to broadband today in the “dead zone” areas.

It’s for this reason that Lycoming County is holding a public meeting on this issue on Wednesday, July 10th at 2:00 p.m. at the First Floor Commissioners Room in the Lycoming County Executive Plaza, 330 Pine Street, in Williamsport. Everyone who believes that their internet service is inadequate should seriously consider attending this meeting.

The program is hosted by SEDA-Council of Governments, which has contracted with Design Nine of Blacksburg, Virginia to provide a broadband study for Lycoming, Clinton, Northumberland, and Union counties. Design Nine has developed networks in New Hampshire, Minnesota, Virginia, Texas, and even in Quebec. Their work in this initial phase is to survey businesses and residents regarding their current broadband connections. Surveys will be made available to the public at select locations throughout the four counties, as well as online via social media and the web. These surveys will provide detailed broadband usage and coverage data needed to complete the study.

Broadband access was a major topic that was brought up during the recent election for County Commissioner, especially in rural areas. Help may be on the way! For business owners who cannot attend the public meeting on the 10th, paper surveys may be found at the http://projects.designnine.com/survey/seda-cog-business-broadband. For more information on this project in general, contact Austin Daily, Community and Economic Development Planner at 570-320-4671 or Tonya Anderson, Administrative Manager at 570-320-2123.

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