Wayne County puts $1.2 million toward high-speed internet projects

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HONESDALE, PA — Weeks after awarding about $2.5 million in federal CARES Act relief to local businesses and nonprofits, the Wayne County Commissioners have approved nearly $1.2 million in CARES grants to improve residents' access to high-speed internet.

Wayne County's lack of access to broadband has been a major point of concern among the commissioners, as well as state and federal representatives, for years. Commissioner Joe Adams has said that the problem affects roughly one-third of people in Wayne County.

The county identified six projects intended to improve internet access to homes and businesses. These projects include:

  • $17,079.40 to support the Wayne Library Alliance "Smart Library" initiative. This will include access equipment and services that will be made available for loan to as many as 60 residents at one time.
  • $361,887 to ICON Technologies to expand its fixed wireless broadband network that extends into areas where cable or fiber services are unavailable. The project will include tower work and other equipment that will cover 425 square miles and more than 22,000 people.
  • $30,000 will go to the Wayne Highlands School District to expand its information technology network and provide more and better access for students with an increased dependency on broadband service to receive instruction and complete classwork.
  • $116,000 to Laurel Highlands Total Communications to replace critical central office equipment needed to maintain and expand residential and business broadband throughout its service territory in the west-central area of Wayne County.
    • Laurel Highlands will also receive $448,942 to expand fiber connectivity to five presently unserved areas encompassing up to 75 homes.
  • $212,772 to Adams Cable to expand its service area in the Lake Ariel region to include up to 68 homes.

“We have identified rural broadband upgrades as the top need in Wayne County for years and thanks to the CARES Act funding, we were finally able to take a giant leap forward toward that goal,” the commissioners said. “We thank our local telecommunication companies for working with us to identify areas of need and agreeing to work quickly to bring high-speed internet to potentially thousands of customers. And we appreciate the Wayne Highlands School District and the Wayne Library Alliance for thinking outside the box to serve their communities during this pandemic.”

Federal CARES funding is provided to Wayne County through the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, which has developed procedures that apply to broadband initiatives undertaken by counties. Projects must be completed and proposed broadband services must be available before December 30, 2020. Project sponsors that fail to meet the deadline will be ineligible for reimbursement and will be required to return any funding already received.

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