Expanding rural broadbrand access

Local News

People in rural parts of Centre County could be getting better broadband access soon.

Parts of Bellefonte, Penns Valley and Brush Valley either don’t get internet connection or have a slow and spotty connection. Plus there’s only one service provider.

Russel Burkholder owns Burkholder Country Market.  It’s a business his father started over thirty years ago.

Russel says he faces challenges his father never did, like trying to take online orders 

When the internet isn’t reliable or affordable.

“It’s very difficult to run a business where everything’s contingent upon having good internet service,” Russel Burkholder, Owner, for Burkholder Country Market, said.

It’s not just businesses that are affected.  Michelle Walker, a mother in Centre Hall says her high schooler needs the internet

“They bring laptops home, it would be easier for them, because some internet is slow, that way they can do their homework and stuff,” Walker said.

County commissioners have been hearing about this problem and are talking to Centre WISP Venture company, a wireless internet service provider, about installing fiberoptic cables on three county-owned 911 towers one in Bellefonte, one in Centre Hall and one Woodward.

“We have Centre County citizens who are having a quality of life issue and this is something that we feel we can set up as a prototype,” Mark Higgins, Commissioner, for Centre County, said.

Tuesday, commissioners approved negotiations to start this test.  If it goes well, Commissioner Mark Higgins, says they could look at doing this for the other 16 towers in the county.  This project won’t cost the county.  Consumers will pay for the internet speed they want.
Russel says he pays nine hundred dollars a month to offer internet service at his business, so having another service option would be very helpful.
“Good internet options absolutely make a difference on how profitable you can be, it could even make the difference of whether a business could start up in this area,

County commissioners hope the fiberoptic cables can be installed on these towers in the Summer and be ready for service by Fall.

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