“In the Stix Broadband,” the sole bidder, won a $1.1 million contract to bring broadband access to rural Cambria County, reports GovTech.com. A ribbon cutting ceremony at Jim Hite Farms in Chest Springs heralded the arrival of the county’s new broadband delivery service.
The host farm is one of nine new cell tower sites that will link the region’s farmers, first responders, students, and residents to the internet. “Our farmers and rural businesses will have an opportunity to operate successful businesses, the same as small businesses in urban and suburban America,” said Cambria County President Commissioner Thomas Chernisky. “Folks will be able to complete job applications online, children will be able to do virtual schoolwork and seniors will have the opportunity to use telemedicine to access health care.”
Before breaking ground, In the Stix Broadband analyzed the areas most in need of broadband outreach, and researched how the larger carriers would approach the situation. “We looked at our map and we looked at what we cover now, and we also looked at what the big carriers cover,” said company co-owner Nick Weakland. “Then we did the inverse of that. We looked at what’s not covered, and that’s where we focused…We targeted those areas that are underserved.”
The resulting plan is a circle of nine new cell tower antennas with a ten mile radius. Funding for the project was supplied by CARES Act funds allotted for Cambria County. Residents like farm owner Jim Hite expressed their enthusiasm for their new broadband access. “Internet service is a major issue for us on the farm,” said Hite. “Whether it’s our drying system communicating information back to us or ordering parts, we naturally try to deal as local as we can, but a lot of times, if we can’t, we need to jump on the internet, get stuff ordered and try to have it for tomorrow.”