New internet provider says broadband could be months away for York, Lebanon County residents

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YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — It might sound almost too good to be true for rural residents whose internet speeds are decades behind those of their urban counterparts. But a new locally-owned internet service provider says some of them could be only months away from having fast, cheap internet.

The company is called NetKey Communications. abc27 News met Tuesday with one of the company’s partners, Bryan Donovan, at the York city warehouse where the company will launch operations.

How could NetKey possibly wire some rural areas in just months? The answer: It’s not wiring them. Anyone with a direct line of sight from their roof to a transmitter can receive the service, which will start at about $40 per month.

At first, that’ll mean people in and around the city, because the first transmitter will be on the roof of the warehouse at 701 Hay Street. In other words, many of NetKey’s first potential customers will be people already served by companies like Comcast and Verizon.

But then NetKey can set up relay stations, situated on the tallest structures available, to act as intermediaries between the city and homes farther away.

How likely is the service to really launch as soon as late April, as NetKey plans?

“We actually made the financial investment. We made the commitment,” Donovan said in the warehouse, surrounded by equipment ready to be installed. “This is going to happen.”

He said NetKey has contracted Lumen, the telecommunications company, previously known as CenturyLink, to provide fiber optics to NetKey’s warehouse.

Asked what underserved areas might expect to be able to sign up for NetKey, Donovan named Dover and Red Lion as examples. He said the company will plan future services based on interest expressed by consumers via a contact form on its website.

“And we’re actually mapping out those different points of contact where the population is most in need of internet access,” he said.

NetKey plans to start a similar service in Lebanon this fall. There too, it plans to launch in and around the city and branch out from there.

Donovan said NetKey is working with the York County Economic Alliance and could be a part of York County’s plan to expand fiber along the county’s rail trail and elsewhere. From fiber access points, NetKey would relay signals wirelessly into even more remote areas, he said.

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