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Faster Internet for Rural Pennsylvania

So many of us know the frustrations when the internet is slow or doesn't work at all. For many people in our area, sl...

Posted: Feb. 20, 2018 9:48 AM
Updated: Feb. 20, 2018 9:48 AM

So many of us know the frustrations when the internet is slow or doesn't work at all. For many people in our area, slow internet is something they live with every day. But the Federal Communications Commission plans to change that in the next few years.

Many people who live near Turbotville live in rural areas. There is a lot of farmland, and houses are few and far between. On the flip side, cell phone coverage can be spotty, as well as the internet connection.

"Very slow and constantly having to reset it. We get it through Verizon, our landline because it's not available any other way in our area because it's too rural," Sharon Czarniak said.

"Surrounding areas all outside of Turbotville in the mountainous areas, there is no service for internet," Missy Magargle said.

According to Broadband Now, there are 650,000 people in Pennsylvania without a wired internet connection.

"This day and age everything is email. You need the internet. It's become a pretty essential part of life," Magargle said.

So what happens when your business is in one of these rural areas and half of your shoppers are online? It cuts into sales.

George Sudol is a designer for Penn State University and sells Penn State licensed products. His internet connection is through cable, and he says it's not dependable for business.

"Storms, a little bit of rain or anything, will knock us right offline. Besides being slow, we have problems just getting online a lot of times," Sudol said.

The Federal Communications Commission plans to change that. It is paying broadband providers to expand their coverage into rural areas over the next decade. It's all part of the FCC's Connect America Fund.

"That would be fantastic. I would really appreciate something like that," Sudol said.

This is how it works. Broadband companies will bid on specific rural areas and get money to deliver high-speed internet to those areas.

"It would be fantastic. I hope I'm still around. I've been waiting a lot of time for it. 20 years since we got our first computer," Czarniak said.

The money is given to the winning bidders through the FCC's Connect America Fund. Bidders have six years to provide service to those areas. The auction is scheduled to start on July 24.

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