Allegheny County, followed by Indiana and Fayette counties, had the highest number of homes and businesses with internet connections in a 10-county region with connections so slow they didn’t even qualify as broadband, according to a new study by a Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission-led coalition of nonprofits.

At the same time, the study named Allegheny, Beaver and Armstrong as counties as places with remarkably fast online speeds as well.

Although Allegheny County had among the fastest internet speeds in the 10-county region, the study identified pockets of the county where internet access lagged — in municipalities along the Monongahela River, for example. Western Washington County, Greene County and much of Indiana County, traditionally Amish country, also lacked the fiber cables, towers and other gear necessary for speedy connections.

Read more »

The Southwestern Pennsylvania (SWPA) Connected initiative today announced the launch of the Connectivity Roadmap, a guidance tool, to support the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), county leadership, and regional stakeholders in the 10-county region and the City of Pittsburgh to develop and prioritize connectivity projects and associated programs to secure funding.

The Connectivity Roadmap was developed in collaboration with representatives of the 10 counties, state and local governments, and industry experts, and through public engagement in the communities most impacted by the lack of reliable or affordable internet. Southwestern Pennsylvania is now positioned to secure federal and state broadband funding through the roadmap’s implementation guide and tools.

Read more »

Washington County has begun a three-year, $30 million project to expand internet access in the rural county, which is located about 35 miles south of Pittsburgh. The first baby steps in the project will bring service to about 50 homes in Avella, home to fewer than 1,000 people, and also to the nearby Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village. Meadowcroft, a National Historic Landmark operated by the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, was a campsite used 19,000 years ago by hunters and gatherers who left behind traces of ice age fire pits, stone and bone tools and pottery fragments.

Read more »

Pennsylvania is preparing for an influx of broadband funding expected from the federal infrastructure bill.

The new funding follows a pandemic that pushed many people online and revealed widespread challenges with broadband access. Federal legislators answered the call with $65 billion in the infrastructure bill, in addition to some broadband funding in pandemic relief packages. But this isn’t the first time large amounts of money have been pumped into broadband.

For many years, Federal Communications Commission programs have offered funding for broadband expansion. But many places still lack access, or affordable access, and in some cases, it’s not entirely clear where the money went. This time, states are hoping to make sure the dollars translate into access.

Read more »

More than two dozen residents attended a “Community Conversation” held at the Greene County Fairgrounds Monday evening to discuss broadband access and speed issues in the area and learn about an ongoing statewide connectivity improvement plan.

The event was coordinated by the Greene County commissioners and facilitated by representatives affiliated with Southwestern Pennsylvania Connected, an initiative created to develop a plan to bring equitable broadband access and high-speed internet to the area.

Read more »

Survey on internet access ends Sunday

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, which covers Indiana and nine other Pittsburgh-area counties, is nearing the end of a survey seeking information about internet access and experience.

SPC’s Southwestern Pennsylvania Connected initiative is asking community members to take a brief survey online or by phone.

Eligible participants can win a $50 Visa gift card for completing the survey.

Read more »

Murrysville officials are considering using some of the municipality’s $1.9 million in American Rescue Plan money to expand broadband internet access.

“I think it’s vital,” Murrysville Chief Administrator Jim Morrison told Murrysville Council members this week. He encouraged residents to complete a survey being undertaken by the nonprofit Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s Connected Initiative to learn about broadband access across the six counties the commission serves.

Read more »

As a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that passed the House on Friday awaits signature by President Joe Biden, the Pittsburgh business community offered their thoughts on what it could mean for the region.

Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald was quick to herald the good news.

He noted how the bill is “going to put a lot of people to work” and when asked where it might help the most, he said, “it’s really all of the above.”

That includes the prospect for expanding transit, specifically referencing the potential to expand the East Busway and widen Bates Street into Oakland, as well as providing a major new source of funding to help ALCOSAN meet the demands of the federal consent decree over Allegheny County’s stormwater management issues, a multi-billion-dollar project in the coming years for the county.

Read more »