Rural Broadband continues to expand. Lawmakers, AT&T, First-Net, and others unveiled a new cell tower in Huntingdon County on Friday. Cell signals are few and far between in parts of the County and Lawmakers and Responders we spoke with hope this is just another step toward providing Broadband to everyone across the Commonwealth.
David Kerr, President OF AT&T Pennsylvania saying: “I think it’s gonna have a dramatic impact.”
Tanner Locke, a Firefighter with Shade Gap Fire Co. saying: “It’s an instant increase in cell signal. It’s a night-and-day difference for being able to not even use your cell phone to send a text and now you’re able to get on the internet and look anything you want up.”
AT&T and the company First-Net teaming up in a public-private partnership to bring Broadband to under-served and unserved rural communities. Rep. John Joyce saying: “Broadband connectivity is important. It’s important in public safety, it’s important in education, it’s important in healthcare, it’s important in commerce.
It’s the Partnership’s second purpose-built cell tower in Huntingdon County. The 250ft structure rises above Shade Gap. Kerr saying: “It’s got some enhanced interest as an issue across the country, across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since the pandemic. And that’s good because we’ve gotta get better connectivity in rural Pennsylvania.”
Kerr tells us they expect this tower to cover a couple thousand full-time Residents. That’s not including the droves of traffic passing through the County, but the impacts are especially felt by Emergency Services. Firefighter Tanner Locke adding: “I couldn’t count the times that, you know, you wish you had a better cell signal. And now that we have that… Oh man, it’s gonna be great.”
Locke says it’s not just a matter of increased convenience, adding: “And being able to communicate not only with your family, but to the dispatchers, you know, if you’re in a wreck, being able to call 9-1-1 and tell them exactly where you’re at and what’s going on.”
But what’s the future hold? Rep. John Joyce saying: “Next is expansion.” Kerr
adding: “We’re at a really important tipping point right now.” Congressman John Joyce saying that’ll see the rollout of additional funds. Rep. Joyce, in closing: “We’re working hand in glove with the FCC and the Pennsylvania Broadband Commission to make sure that Central Pennsylvania has not left behind, that all those resources don’t go to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, that those in the middle — those who need these services — are advocated for in Washington.”