County Launches Survey to Improve Internet in Clarion County

Ron Wilshire

Ron Wilshire

Published July 13, 2022 4:35 am
County Launches Survey to Improve Internet in Clarion County

clarion-commissionersCLARION, Pa. (EYT) – The information highway is a long and winding road and adding the necessary “roadway” for rural areas is challenging and costly.

(Photo above: Jack Maytum and Jarred Heuer outlined plans for an Internet survey.)

Clarion County is conducting a broadband survey to assess its current broadband service and needs. The goal is to develop a comprehensive set of strategies to bring high-performance broadband and Internet services to all residents, businesses, and underserved areas.

The Clarion County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) last year received a $50,000.00 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. This award, matched by the Clarion County Commissioners, is funding the Clarion County Connected Engineering Plan.

“The CCEDC Broadband Study is for enhancing broadband in Clarion County,” said CCEDC Executive Director Jarred Heuer on Tuesday at a meeting of the Clarion County Commissioners.

“Design Nine, based in Blacksburg, Virginia, was hired earlier this year, in order to create a broadband engineering plan for Clarion County that would help us provide a roadmap for continued growth and development throughout the county in years to come.”

Fiber display
Jack Maytum shares typical fiber used to bring Internect connectivity into homes.

Heuer introduced Jack Maytum, a senior business analyst at Design Nine.

“Your participation in the survey will help us understand how to connect every home, school, doctor’s office, and government agency to a high-speed network for our community,” Maytum said.

The results will help county leaders determine where the need is greatest and help guide us on how to ensure that all citizens and businesses have affordable and adequate access to broadband services.

The survey should be completed by August 12–offering both a printed survey, to be returned by mail, and online. The online survey is available at https:\projects.designnine.com/survey/clarioncounty-residential.

“We focus exclusively on broadband communications, and we’ve done approximately 250 broadband studies across the country, primarily in rural areas, municipalities counties, and groups of counties. We just completed an 18-county study in Northeastern Wisconsin, and we’re currently working on a 14-county study in east Texas.

“After COVID, there is a lot of money available,” said Maytum. “In fact, there’s more money that’s coming available from Washington over the next few years than we’ve seen distributed to broadband throughout its history.

“The American Recovery Planning Act, also allocated quite a bit of money to broadband, especially in those communities that didn’t do sewer water or roads. They allocated all of their money to broadband. Now. we have the $42.5 billion broadband equity application and deployment, part of the infrastructure plan that was signed by President Biden back in November.”

One of the requirements is that each state send in a letter of application, and within three days, 35 states were sending their letters, and Pennsylvania was one of them. It is crucial that the application from Clarion County have a Connected Engineering Plan.

“In addition to the survey, we also try to analyze all of the existing broadband assets in the county, everything from towers that can hold radios, that can distribute a signal to residents of businesses, wireline communications, which includes cable fiber DSL line — anything that can transmit internet,” continued Maytum. “We’re interested in knowing where it is, what condition it’s in, and who owns it so that we can identify gaps that there are in broadband services in the county.”

“In addition to that, we do an internet service provider survey, which we have pretty much completed, which analyzes all of the services from all of the providers in the county by zip code and explains all of the prices for each of the products that they have to offer. That will be available in the report, as well. We will then make recommendations as to how the county can best fill the gaps that we’ve identified in broadband in the county. Our intention is to work with the existing service providers and any new providers who might be interested in offering services.”


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