HARRISBURG – The Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s Board of Directors, chaired by State Senator Gene Yaw, will hold a public hearing in Wellsboro, Pa., on Thursday, April 5, 2018 to hear from broadband service providers and consumers about the issues, challenges, and opportunities of delivering broadband services in rural Pennsylvania.
Joining Senator Yaw at the hearing will be Center Board Members Rep. Garth Everett (vice chairman), Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich (treasurer), Dr. Nancy Falvo of Clarion University (secretary), Stephen Brame, Dr. Stephan Goetz and Darrin Youker. Senator Joe Scarnati will also join the panel.
Confirmed testifiers include representatives from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Governor’s Office of Broadband Initiatives, Blue Ridge Cable, Indigo Wireless, PenTeleData, Tri-County Rural Electric, Progress Authority, North Central PA Regional Planning and Development Commission, UPMC Susquehanna, JC Blair Memorial Health System, Wellsboro Area School District, PA Route 6 Alliance, Visit Potter-Tioga, Susquehannock Lodge, and Port Farms.
“Broadband access means so much more than interactive gaming or connecting with your family and friends,” said Sen. Yaw. “Broadband access means connecting with your healthcare provider, completing a classroom assignment, and maintaining and expanding your business.”
According to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2016 Broadband Progress Report, 39 percent of rural Americans (23 million people) lack access to broadband, defined as 25 Mbps/3 Mbps. In Pennsylvania, 29 percent of the population in Tioga County, 39 percent of the population in Bradford County, 30 percent of the population in Potter County, 69 percent of the population in Sullivan County, and 11 percent of the population in Lycoming County do not have access to fixed, advanced telecommunications.
“The Center’s board wants to know more about the challenges and opportunities regarding rural broadband deployment because it impacts such a large part of our everyday lives,” Yaw said. “We know that the geography of rural Pennsylvania and the lack of population are issues that affect the availability, access and cost of broadband, but we have seen that rural Pennsylvania can serve as a testbed for innovation and unique ways of dealing with the challenges of geography and isolation.”
The public hearing will be held in the Red Room of the Penn Wells Hotel, 62 Main St., Wellsboro, Pa., 16901 and will begin at 9 AM. Members of the public are invited to attend.
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Center works with the legislature, educators, state and federal executive branch agencies, and national, statewide, regional and local organizations to maximize resources and strategies that can better serve Pennsylvania’s nearly 3.5 million rural residents.
Barry Denk, Director
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania