Wayne inches toward high-speed internet

By OWEN WALSH
Posted 11/20/19

WAYNE COUNTY, PA — At their meeting on November 14, the county commissioners entered into a professional-services agreement with a company called Essential Management Solutions, LLC to …

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Wayne inches toward high-speed internet

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WAYNE COUNTY, PA — At their meeting on November 14, the county commissioners entered into a professional-services agreement with a company called Essential Management Solutions, LLC to potentially bring broadband (high-speed internet) to the county.

Like many in rural communities, residents in Wayne lack access to high-speed internet: something politicians and economic developers have long identified as the area’s primary setback. In August, Mary Beth Wood, executive director of the Wayne Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO), said that the internet is “now as important [to local infrastructure] as a highway.”

“If we don’t have those connections, we will fall further and further behind,” she said.

Having “exhausted every other avenue,” as Commissioner Wendell Kay put it, the county is now pursuing a solution known as “ultra-broadband meet points.” These meet points, or hubs, would be placed at various points throughout the county, and allow local internet providers to plug in and increase their capacity and wireless capabilities.

Essential Management Solutions will now complete a feasibility study with an outreach, concept and plan design. Working with WEDCO, the county has also submitted for an Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant to help pay for some necessary equipment to complete the project. If the application is approved, the commissioners have committed to match the $148,750 in grant money toward equipment costs.

Commissioner Joe Adams said that Wayne Tomorrow, a public/private strategic planning group, has identified the county’s lack of rural broadband as its number one detriment for the past eight years. The commissioners partnered with WEDCO several years ago to create The Stourbridge Project, a business incubator and co-working space that currently provides the fastest internet speeds in the county. Adams called this project a “continuation” of that investment.

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