Wednesday, August 4, 2010

USDA Grant to Bring Broadband to Rural PA

Some Pennsylvania residents may benefit from a $3.3 million federal grant to bring broadband internet access to rural areas of the region.

The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded the West Virginia PCS Alliance money to install fiber broadband lines from its West Virginia center of operations to southern Pennsylvania.

The federal stimulus package grant is part of a USDA effort to bring high-speed internet to rural areas across the nation. $2.65 billion has been invested so far, with another $1 billion expected before October.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says he expects 1.2 million American homes to be “positively impacted” by the end of the national project. Vilsack says the measure will also stimulate business growth and global connectedness. He says he anticipates about 5,000 jobs created nationwide, some of them permanent.

The Agriculture Secretary says his Department should follow up by encouraging broadband use once the infrastructure is in place.

“Certainly, we’ve learned that with the Rural Utilities Service, and with rural electrification in the 30s and 40s, that there was at least initially some skepticism about it all, but as people saw the benefits, as they saw their neighbors utilizing it effectively to make their lives better, there was greater adoption and greater acceptance. That’s obviously what we’re going to have to continue to do with broadband.”

The Department of Agriculture website says the West Virginia PCS Alliance project “stands to benefit over 185,000 people” in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. Installation of underground broadband lines is slated for completion in 2011.

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