Washington County is continuing to expand internet service in hopes that, ultimately, the entire county can access it. The latest phase of the Broadband Initiative plan will earmark $50 million over the next six to nine months to connect 5,000 homes, schools, and businesses to internet services. Thirty million of that is coming from the American Rescue Plan Act, funding that has already been received. The county is also seeking funding through the newly-formed Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, which will be a broker in distributing the state’s share of funds from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program. These funds are expected to reach the state by early 2024.
The distribution of these funds relies on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) development of maps showing areas in each state where internet connections are poor or missing. The most poorly-served areas will get funding priority. The FCC is planning to release an updated map on November 18th; it will be reviewed by county and state government officials.
All together, 700 miles of fiber optic cable will be strung throughout the eight municipalities within the McGuffey school district and other underserved areas across the county. However, as with every project, there are obstacles. Supply chain disruptions and labor shortages could create issues during these broadband expansions, and a massive need for labor and workers is expected. It is unclear when the projects will be complete.
CCJ will be following this initiative closely and will provide updates as they are available. If you would like more information about this broadband expansion plan, please contact our Field Program Coordinator Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-229-3550 ext. 8.