Rural areas deserve good internet access

There is no question that internet access is limited in our rural, mountainous region.

Sure, the populated cities, boroughs and townships have good access, mostly through cable or DSL.

But just minutes out of our towns and, wa la … affordable, fast broadband internet access is pretty much a pipe dream.

That’s why we’re glad officials are hosting a meeting today at 1 p.m. in the county government building in the 2nd floor public meeting room at 2 Piper Way near the William T. Piper Memorial Airport to launch a broadband feasibility study.

SEDA-Council of Governments is helping to spearhead various meetings across the area.

Today’s meeting will explore:

5 Current broadband status in Clinton County.

5 Broadband needs in Clinton County for the next 10 years.

5 What to expect from a broadband feasibility study.

5 Broadband network costs and sources of funding.

5 Broadband network methods of ownership, installation and management.

Clinton is participating in a four-county study sponsored by SEDA-COG to identify gaps and issues in our rural broadband coverage.

“The point of the study is to gather clear, specific data on where the gaps are, what specifically needs improvement, and how to meet those needs,” according to officials.

“The point of this meeting is to explain our intentions and procedures to local leaders and give them a chance to give input up front. Afterward, we will circulate a survey (online and paper versions) for all residents to give input. There will be a lot of publicity around that – this meeting is just for the local leaders,” they added.

You have been invited to this meeting because you are considered a key stakeholder who has knowledge about broadband service (presence or absence, and local satisfaction level thereof) in your community, organization, or sphere of influence.

We hope you or a designee can attend.

They conclude: “This study will be especially important for our un-served and under-served areas!”

Ain’t that the truth.

We know landline broadband is expensive to expand.

Wireless service is limited, though thanks to River Valley Internet, at least, there is such service.

We remember not all that long ago when the former Keystone Community Network – KCnet – was founded with the idea of providing internet access across the area, including to our rural communities.

It’s not an inexpensive endeavor by any means.

Massive infrastructure and technology needs were required then and are still required today.

A rural resident can get DSL … but many don’t consider that fast broadband.

A rural resident can get satellite internet service … but many consider that too slow and costly.

We’re hopeful that reasonably fast and affordable internet access is expanded.

What it will take is regional cooperation.

It will take time and money, but let’s make it happen.

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