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Hickory Telephone receives contract to expand broadband access in a pilot program

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

As an organization that serves the southwest corner of the state, we are familiar with the struggle that comes with not having a reliable internet connection. There is a strong need for improved internet services in Greene and Washington Counties as well as many other rural areas in the state. Luckily, there is a broadband pilot program starting near Avella PA. The county commissioners will begin sending mailers about this in mid-March and the program will require approximately six months to implement.

The Washington County Commissioners recently awarded Hickory Telephone $179,700 to extend its Aurora fiber-optic internet lines. The most prominent point of interest that will be served by the broadband program will be the Meadowcroft Rock Shelter and Historic Village. The program will also supply broadband to about 50 homes on Fallen Timber Road, Pine Flats Road, and Bert Road west of Avella. Residents will have the option to opt-in or out of subscribing to the service.

Tilson Technology Management will release a comprehensive report on this initiative at the end of the program. If successful, the program could be implemented in other underserved communities, bringing high-speed internet access to other parts of the county. This would all be paid for with the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The initiative could take up to three years and use up to a third of the county’s ARPA funds. 

When the pilot program ends, communications companies such as Hickory Telephone are expected to make bids on providing internet service to other areas of the county without broadband internet access.

If you are a resident of these underserved areas, the county commissioners would like you to email them at BroadbandHelp@co.washington.pa.us so that they can log the location where service is needed and send updates when necessary. You can also contact the Executive Director of the Washington County Authority, John A. Timney, by email at john.timney@co.washington.pa.us or by phone at 724-250-6418.

Residents in these areas who do not use or who do not have access to email can stay up-to-date by contacting our Field Program Coordinator Paul at paul@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org or 724-229-3550 Ext 8. 

Author

  • Paul Fedore has been a resident of Washington County for four years and previously worked with Washington County United, a chapter of PA United, as a canvasser fighting for economic, environmental, and racial justice. He loves camping, hiking, fishing, and boating. Paul joined CCJ’s team in July 2020 as the Field Program Coordinator to help deepen and strengthen our relationships with communities in southwestern Pennsylvania and to ensure that people have a pathway to engage in improving their communities. He is excited to work with everyone to hold fossil fuel companies and our elected officials accountable and to organize to build power in our small towns and rural communities.

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