The Crawford County Planning Commission is seeking public input as it develops a plan to increase broadband internet access within the county.

"The importance of high-speed Internet access to underserved communities in Crawford County cannot be overstated," Crawford County Planning Director Zach Norwood said. "This was already a priority issue for our area, but the effects of COVID really amplified how critical it is for business, residents and our local schools to have a reliable internet connection."

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set a download speed of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speed of 3 Mbps as the standard for determining what is high-speed broadband.

Crawford County has only 75 percent of households having access to internet service that meets the FCC standard, according to a September 2020 study by the Pennsylvania General Assembly on the Delivery of High-Speed Broadband Services in Underserved Areas.

Currently, the commission's Planning Initiatives Committee is gathering information on broadband efforts in neighboring counties, logistics requirements for broadband and possible funding opportunities.

The pandemic caused school districts around Crawford County to shift to using the internet for classes while businesses of all types and medical facilities also used remote access. It has highlighted the reality that those living in rural areas without high-speed internet access are at a disadvantage to those with high-speed internet.

The public interested in the county’s broadband planning initiative should contact the committee by Friday through the Crawford County Planning Commission's webpage at crawfordcountypa.net/planning where there is a survey form about broadband.

People should include details on their interest in the initiative, ways in which they can support the efforts, and, if known, information on other broadband-related projects affecting the county.

Additionally, the public may view an online "story map" on the project also at crawfordcountypa.net/planning.

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