Clarion commissioners hope survey is path to better internet

Clarion County commissioners got a glimpse of the future of internet services in the county on Tuesday.

Jack Maytum, a senior business analyst with Design Nine of Blacksburg, Virginia, told the commissioners “this is a golden time” to expand internet service.

“There is more money available than ever before,” Maytum said. “You are in a great position to obtain plenty of money over the next few years.”

Maytum said $45.2 million is managed by the U. S. Department of Commerce for rural broadband.

The process starts with a broadband survey conducted by Design Nine that assesses the current services in the county and the needs within the county.

“The goal”, said Maytum, “is to develop a comprehensive set of strategies to bring high performance broadband and internet services to all residents and businesses.”

He said the survey contains about 23 questions and will be available online and by regular mail.

“It makes no sense to ask people about their internet service if they don’t have any service,” he said.

There are two surveys, one for businesses and one for rural users.

Maytum said the results will help county leaders determine where the need is greatest and will help ensure that all citizens and businesses have affordable access to broadband services.

Maytum said the survey must be completed by Aug. 12.

“We hope to have a report completed in September,” he said. “Once we have that in hand we can design a comprehensive network for the 21st century.”

Maytum said that, one day, fiber internet service will be available to every house just like electricity is today.

“This won’t happen tomorrow,” he said. “It may take 10 to 15 years.”

Funding for the study came from an Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant with a match from Clarion County. The county was awarded $1,096,125 by ARC in September to “design, build, and launch fixed wireless broadband services to unserved and underserved areas in Clarion County.”


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