BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. — The internet is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. That’s the message from local, state and federal officials when it comes to expanding broadband infrastructure.
“All across this great Commonwealth more than 276,000 households, schools and libraries don’t have access to internet at all and another 52,000 don’t have access to broadband they can routinely use,” said Gov. Josh Shapiro.
It’s no secret, the problem exists with more than 3000 of those homes in Beaver County and the pandemic only emphasized the problem.
“Trying to educate your kids from home, trying to work from home, telemedicine even shopping from home and entertaining your family from home when you were couped up and couldn’t go anywhere for a while,” said County Commissioner Jack Manning.
Beaver County has already partnered with Verizon and dedicated $11 million of American Rescue funds to put shovels in the ground and continues to discover more homes in need.
Now with $1.16 billion in additional federal funding being spread across the state, the hope is it will happen faster, and no one will be left without this basic necessity.
“Study after study has clearly shown when people are connected to reliable broadband, they have got better healthcare outcomes, better education outcomes and better economic outcomes,” Shapiro said.
It even plays a factor in attracting more businesses to call Beaver County home.
“They are asking just as much about what your connectivity is as they are water, sewer, electric and all of those other amenities and utilities. It’s right up there and sometimes it’s even the first thing they ask,” Manning said.
The state is currently holding more than 20 roundtable discussions before it starts to build a five-year plan for distributing these new funds and building out the infrastructure.
In Beaver County, leaders hope to move faster with all the work completed by the end of 2026.
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