Somerset County commissioners urge survey participation to bolster broadband access

Sep. 27—SOMERSET, Pa. — Some areas of Somerset County are bereft of broadband internet access. Some areas may have a signal, but it's not strong enough to serve the county's workers and students, Somerset County Commissioner Pamela Pamela Tokar-Ickes said.

The Somerset County commissioners are asking people countywide to participate in a survey that would help the county compete for potentially tens of millions of federal dollars that would implement broadband access across the county.

Somerset County residents can participate in the survey by visiting www.connectsomersetcounty.com. Paper surveys are available and can be mailed by calling the Somerset County commissioners at 814-445-1400.

"The survey will help us identify the gaps in Somerset County," Tokar-Ickes said. "It's a critical time. The results of our survey will be available when the next round of federal funding will be rolled out."

The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Pennsylvania is poised to receive $1.16 billion, Commissioner Colleen Dawson said.

"Divide that by 67 counties, you are talking $17 million average," she said, "but we have to show the need we have for it."

She said the commissioners encourage all residents countywide to take the survey.

"The better return we get on this survey, the better we can compete for the next rounds of funding."