Beaver County planning to improve broadband internet access, fix reliability issues

BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. — Communities nationwide are preparing for an influx of COVID-19 relief funding from the federal government.

Beaver County officials are already making plans to spend a significant portion of the $92 million it will receive on improving broadband access.

According to the FCC, more than 90 percent of residents in Beaver County have broadband access. But county commissioner Jack Manning said reliability is a significant issue in rural areas and price is a problem for lower income residents.

“For me to do Zoom calls or Zoom meetings? It was very challenging at certain times of the day,” Manning said.

Manning, like millions of others, started working from home as a result of the pandemic.

“I have DSL. That’s all they have where I live. It’s totally unreliable,” he said.

Manning said in many cases, internet service is difficult to access, not consistent and expensive to buy. The county is partnering with Michael Baker International to talk with people about issues.

“We have folks that are off the road 500, 600 feet or even 1,000 feet. Those are the major areas of concern for connectivity,” Jeremy Jurick with Michael Baker said.

The county said the system could start being upgraded by next spring.