York County Commissioners put $25 million towards expanding internet access

York

YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A big chunk of federal money is going to improve broadband internet in York County.

The York County Commissioners are planning to use $25 million from American Rescue Plan Act funding to help people in the county get better access to the internet.

York County President Julie Wheeler says the goal is to address the digital divide.

“We are continuing to invest in a need we have in the community and we’re fortunate that we’re getting some money to help us do this,” Wheeler said. “It’s not just about surfing the internet anymore. It’s really about living and working remotely.”

A year ago the YoCo Fiber Task Force was created specifically to help evaluate and address the problems some communities have with getting connected.

Now the funding is going towards putting a fiber optic backbone in parts of Southern York. The path for it is identified by 7 rings that the task force has mapped out.

“Building out these 3 rings isn’t going to touch everybody. It is going to touch our population in the Southern part of York County,” Wheeler said.

Erika Beers and her family live in a rural spot in the southern part of the county. They have major internet issues.

“We’re not living in the same century as other people. It’s not like impossible to use the internet here but it is slow, it frequently does not work, it’s expensive, we’re out of data all the time, so it has enormous problems,” Beers said.

It’s so bad that she spent months working out of a McDonald’s parking lot to use their wifi. Also, her three kids weren’t able to do zoom school, so they had to hire someone to teach them full time.

The goal of this broadband investment is to help families like hers.

“It would be really life changing for us really. I don’t think I can quantify it,” Beers said.

She’s skeptical it will actually bring her home internet access, but she says even if it only helps some families it’s a worthwhile project.

“It’s not nice that we can’t have internet access, but if it helps other people I 100% back it,” Beers said. “I would be fine also with my tax money going to do that even if we don’t benefit from it personally.”

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