Indiana Gazette: Area counties asked to participate in broadband service challenge

Public and private organizations in area counties are requesting that residents who rely on DSL (digital subscriber line) or wireless home internet services participate in the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority’s broadband service challenge process, which is ongoing through Wednesday at 11 p.m.

In a news release, the Indiana County Board of Commissioners said residents can go to and follow the instructions to identify their location on the Federal Communication Commission’s map and take the speed test.

Because the test must be taken three times, users must begin their first test no later than Monday. However, each test only will take a few minutes.

Indiana County officials said they have identified 1,150 homes equipped with DSL or wireless home internet services incorrectly labeled on the FCC map as having access to high-speed internet.

They said efforts are underway to rectify that discrepancy. They said residents may access instructions via the challenge website.

Residents whose addresses are identified as being unserved or underserved on the FCC’s map do not need to complete this challenge process. Those locations are already deemed eligible for Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program infrastructure funding.

Local officials said this challenge is different from the FCC’s Challenge process previously administered in January 2023.

Still, they said, residents that submitted a challenge last year should consider taking part in this new challenge process.

In response to last year’s federal announcement allocating $1.16 billion to Pennsylvania through the BEAD Program, efforts are underway to bolster the infrastructure required for robust internet connectivity in areas currently lacking or experiencing insufficient service.

One prerequisite for accessing these funds involves implementing a challenge process to validate the accuracy of BEAD-eligible locations. This collaborative endeavor empowers local governments, nonprofits, and internet service providers to collaborate with the PBDA in refining the FCC’s map, which delineates regions as either served by strong, reliable internet, underserved or completely unserved.

Similar instructions were sent out for Westmoreland County, as well as through other member counties in the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, which also includes Armstrong, Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence and Washington counties, and has a Connected initiative regional consortium with Carnegie Mellon University, Allies for Children, and a diverse group of regional partners.

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