Bill for Rural Broadband Access Passes

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Harrisburg, PA (WTAJ) — Nancy Kaltenbach and her husband own Pole Cat Hollow Farm in Howard.

She says they use Facebook, Instagram and email in their marketing to customers.

“The reliability of satellite internet is poor, so if it’s raining we may not be able to answer emails, we may not be able to communicate with our customers,” Kaltenbach, said.

Tuesday, the PA Senate passed 35th District, Senator Wayne Langerholc Jr,’s bill 836.

It would provide state grant money for a pilot program to provide high speed broadband access in rural areas of Pennsylvania.

“There really is a lot more technology that’s in use in agriculture than I think people realize and giving farmers the ability to use broadband really helps aid in their production,” Langerholc Jr., said.

Senator Langerholc says rural broadband access is even more needed during the pandemic, particularly for students.

He’s been working on this bill since 2017, when first responders had trouble communicating in the rurual area of Hyndman, Bedford County during a train derailment.

Art Martynuska, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator with the Cambria County Emergency Management Agency, agrees broadband is a tool first responders cannot be without.

“Whether it’s consulting with a physician at a hospital, whether it’s telemedicine, telehealth, insuring that people’s welfare and well-being, they’re being checked upon, allowing these folks access to telemedicine, telehealth, remote distance learning,” Martynuska, said.

The bill now goes to the house.

There it will be decided where the money would go and how much.

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