York Co. broadband task force confronts rising need for fast in-home internet

York

YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — For a majority of Americans, snail’s-pace internet at home is a nostalgic memory — among those not so young that they can’t even remember it, anyway. But for some Midstaters, slow internet remains a present-day reality, even as homeschooling and work-from-home needs surge.

York County commissioners say they’ve taken a step toward bringing modern-day internet to residents who are off the high-speed grid — those whom companies like Comcast and Verizon have said are too expensive to serve, and who would have to spend the tens of thousands of dollars needed to bring the wires to them.

A new YoCo Fiber Broadband Task Force, created last week by the commission, is tasked with figuring out how the county can bring fiber close enough to unserved residents that the private companies would be willing to do the rest of the work.

President Commissioner Julie Wheeler (R) couldn’t say how soon many of the unserved will actually be served but expressed optimism that the county will be able to secure the funding it will need to do whatever the task force ultimately recommends.

She highlighted a “16-mile backbone” of fiber, which forms the sides of two of the seven “rings” of fiber the county believes would be needed to bring most unserved residents within range.

“Many of these grants, you have to demonstrate the ability to do something like this,” Wheeler said. “So because we’ve already built this 16-mile backbone, we’ve demonstrated we have the ability to do this.”

Similarly, because the county invested financially in the backbone, she said the county has shown it’s willing to commit its own resources alongside whatever outside money flows in — local matches, as they’re known, are often a requirement of grants.

That would be welcome news to two residents who spoke Tuesday with abc27: Erika Beers, a consultant who spends hundreds of dollars per month for home internet that’s nonetheless so slow that she works in her car, outside a McDonald’s, and uses the restaurant’s Wi-Fi; and Carrie Almony, of Almony’s Property Solutions, a Glen Rock-based landscaper, who similarly spends a small fortune for a router that distributes cell phone-quality internet to her company and family — they all share the connection — and cuts the speed more toward the end of each monthly billing cycle.

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