This rural Pennsylvania community built its own tower for high-speed internet access - Technical.ly Philly

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Jul. 7, 2020 12:06 pm

This rural Pennsylvania community built its own tower for high-speed internet access

The new tower on the border of Mifflin and Huntington counties serves around 40 customers.

A community effort from rural Pennsylvanians is bringing high-speed internet to an area that needed it.

In a story published Sunday, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Jason Nark profiled the Rural Broadband Cooperative (RBC), a nonprofit that pooled Big Valley community resources to build its own radio tower and helped give around 40 customers high-speed internet access in the process.

With COVID-19 forcing many people to work from home, there is an added incentive for communities in all areas to have reliable internet access.

Initially, RBC founder Kevin Diven had meetings with Verizon representatives about improving internet connections in his area, and Comcast offered to lay high-speed internet across eight miles for $80,000, the Inquirer reported. Neither offer appealed, so the RBC created its own way of getting high-speed internet access:

The nonprofit RBC services anyone who can see the 120-foot, former HAM radio tower its founders bought and erected on a patch of land they lease from an Amish man at around 1,900 feet on Stone Mountain, on the border of Mifflin and Huntington Counties, 180 miles from Philadelphia. Users pay an initial set-up fee of about $300, and monthly costs for the service are approximately $40 to $75, depending on the speeds you choose, ranging from 5 to 25 megabits per second.

By using an existing fiber line, the RBC has a radio signal that bounces off a dish connected to a gas station in Allensville, Pennsylvania. The signal can work within a 15-mile radius and typically can connect with any users that can see the tower that it comes from unless the view is blocked by trees.

Read the full story

Community-driven internet access efforts are also happening elsewhere, such as Baltimore, thanks to Elev8 Baltimore and Rowdy Orb.it.

In Delaware, the Delaware Department of Technology and Information has previously helped rural residents access high-speed broadband, too.

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Companies: Comcast, Verizon
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