Public meeting to provide overview, update on broadband study
At the session – hosted by the Lycoming County Commissioners from 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, in Trade & Transit II, 100 W. Third St. – the SEDA-Council of Governments and Design Nine, Inc. of Blacksburg, Virginia, will outline a broadband study for Clinton, Lycoming, Northumberland and Union counties. A survey was circulated requesting input from the public.
As a result of receiving funding assistance from the U.S. Appalachian Regional Commission and the four participating counties, Design Nine has been in the process of analyzing existing broadband assets in the counties including those offered by telecom service providers, cable companies and government organizations that provide communications services through schools and first responders. The company has been analyzing the types of broadband services available, broadband use patterns and gaps in coverage, and to make recommendations to the counties as to how to improve coverage.
A key part of the Design Nine data collection process has been through a public survey from businesses and residents regarding their broadband connections. Residential and business surveys have been made available to the public at select locations throughout the four counties, as well as online via social media and the web. These surveys have provided detailed broadband usage and coverage data needed to complete the study.
The study, completed at the end of August, will serve as a guide to implement a modern broadband network. It will also provide the standards necessary for SEDA-COG to develop and release a model Request for Proposals from engineering and communications construction firms that may be interested in designing and constructing such a network.
Each of the four counties will receive a set of strategies to address rural high-speed internet deficiencies.
“Rural broadband, although often discussed as a major issue within the region, has not been acted upon because of the lack of information about the tasks, activities and costs of developing, testing and maintaining high-speed broadband infrastructure,” said Scott Kramer, from the SEDA-COG Information Technologies Group. “Lack of adequate broadband access is a predominant concern for agriculture, education, tourism and manufacturing, as well as emerging industries such as life sciences, technology and health services. This data gathered will provide the needed information to help local leaders and stakeholders make prudent decisions about next steps to expand broadband access.” More information and a public survey are available from SEDA-COG.
Free parking for Tuesday's meeting will be provided in the Third Street parking garage.