MONTOUR COUNTY, Pa. — Federal, state, and local officials gathered at the Montour Preserve near Danville to celebrate high-speed internet service. Montour County commissioners have been working with the economic development group DRIVE since 2019. The goal was to bring a wireless broadband network to parts of the county that had trouble with internet access.
"We did that. It took a lot of work. We had help, actually. The folks from Lackawanna County were really influential. They had built a similar network," said Jennifer Wakeman, DRIVE's executive director.
Once the pandemic hit, the four surrounding counties also realized the need for reliable high-speed internet.
"We need homeschooling. We need to have people to access the grid through that way to do it," said Montour County Commissioner Trevor Finn.
Snyder, Union, Northumberland, Montour, and Columbia Counties contributed federal CARES Act money to expand the broadband network. The project cost $3.2 million.
"If we had not had that Montour network in place already up and running, there's no way we could have done this, at least not with the CARES Act dollars within the time frame required," Wakeman said.
The project expansion was finished last summer, adding 16 tower sites. The wireless broadband network goes from Benton Township in Columbia County to Port Trevorton in Snyder County.
Officials say it's expanding.
"We're actually looking at adding another tower site further out in western Snyder County. We're talking to Northumberland County about maybe another tower in the coal region area. We have a grant out with the state right now to do some additional work in Montour County," Wakeman added.
"We're just getting started. We have a lot of work to do to get that final mile so that we can get a lot more people hooked up," Finn said.
Two internet service providers are now serving customers across the five-county region using this infrastructure.
Check out WNEP's YouTube page.