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    Indiana County Broadband Deployment Initiative Moves Ahead

    6/4/2021

    Those participating were:  Indiana County Commissioners; R. Michael Keith, Chairman, Commissioner Robin Gorman, Commissioner Sherene Hess, PA Senator Joe Pittman, 41st District, PA House of Representative Jim Struzzi, 62nd District, PA House of Representative Brian Smith, 66th District, PA House of Representative Jason Silvis, 55th District, Brian Subich representing U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, PA-15th, , Brush Valley Township resident LeAnn Payne, Indiana County EMA, Thomas A. Stutzman, Director and Indiana County Office of Planning & Development, Byron Stauffer, Jr., Executive Director

    In 2020, as part of the CARES Act funding opportunity as well as State grant funding, the Indiana County Commissioners utilized nearly $2.3 million for the Indiana County Broadband Deployment Initiative. Having only six-months for substantial completion, the County contracted with Salsgiver, Inc. to build a fiber optic backbone that covered approximately 85 miles. The fiber network passes through 12 townships, Washington, South Mahoning, East Mahoning, Grant, Green, Cherryhill, Rayne, White, Brush Valley, Buffington, Conemaugh and Young in Indiana County, constructed in five segments with the capacity to service over 13,000 customers with standard installation speeds of up to 1Gbps/sec.

    This fiber network also initially will serve as the backbone for the 10 licensed spectrum CBRS LTE wireless sites also installed as part of the Broadband Project. The wireless network is capable of speeds up to 150Mbps. The fiber and wireless networks were built primarily through areas where previously the internet speeds did not exceed 3Mbps. It is estimated that the fiber network will pass by nearly 750 homes and the wireless network will reach around double that number in addition to over 200 businesses and 3 School Districts.

    These new services provide greater access to technologies previously unattainable, such as:
    • Virtual Learning
    • Teleconferencing
    • Telemedicine
    • Cloud Services
    • Streaming Video
    • Home / Business Security
    • The Internet of Things (IoT) – Medical Tracking devices such as heart monitors, smart appliances, autonomous farming equipment and much more.

    The Indiana County Commissioners have been awarded a $1.5 million grant through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) POWER Initiative to provide funding for a project to deploy over 100 miles of broadband fiber and install wireless broadband equipment at eight locations to provide high-speed broadband service to unserved and underserved areas of Indiana County. The County will provide matching funds and enter into a contract with an internet service provider(s) to design, construct and deploy the broadband infrastructure, and provide high-speed, low-latency broadband service to residential and commercial customers within the project area. The project footprint is expected to reach over 800 residential customers and approximately 75 businesses who currently do not have access to broadband service.

    A vertical asset inventory conducted in 2020 by the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission is being used to guide the project design and locations of the wireless broadband sites.

    The project's service area was modified to take advantage of broadband infrastructure funded through the CARES Act. This project will build onto and expand the footprint of the CARES Act project in order to reach remote, unserved and underserved households and businesses in the County.


     

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