Gigabit Revolution working to lower York internet costs
The recent Pennsylvania Gigabit Revolution meeting drew business and political leaders from across York County, but it was a specific group missing that caught the attention of the event's host.
"There are not enough young people here," said Kelly Lewis, of Lewis Strategic, near the conclusion of the Friday's meeting.
Lewis stressed that the county's youth need to be involved in the technology movement, which was outlined during the hour-and-a-half meeting at the Yorktowne Hotel.
Speakers at the meeting explained the importance of bringing ultra-high-speed gigabit internet access to Pennsylvania communities, including York County.
Heather Gryp, a spokeswoman for the gigabit effort, said they had surveyed 600 residents in the six central Pennsylvania communities they're serving and found that 60 percent had no knowledge of gigabit internet and 13 percent had no internet access.
Having access to gigabit internet will create jobs and raise home values, as it's already done in other cities, Gryp said.
John Dolmetsch, co-founder of York-based BIG Wireless, shared the results of his company's analysis of broadband structure for more than 500 organizations — including businesses, nonprofits and schools — in York, Hanover, Doylestown, Pottstown, Ephrata and Reading.
York County had the highest number of organizations analyzed, Dolmetsch said, and new/overlash fiber construction, which directly connects spaces with broadband networks, was determined to be approximately $5,000 per organization, which he indicated was very low.
Dolmetsch also determined through his company's study that many central Pennsylvania businesses are overpaying for internet connection.
The average organization in central Pennsylvania that responded is paying $9.37 per megabit for downloads and $14.56 for uploads, Dolmetsch said, while organizations in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which has gigabit internet access, are paying 7 cents per megabit.
"We are being discriminated against when it comes to our internet," he said. "We have cheap labor and housing but really expensive internet, and no one is going to want to move here as a result."
Dolmetsch said his company recently had to hire 12 out-of-state software developers because there's a huge lack of technology workers in this area, a sentiment echoed by other company leaders speaking during the meeting.
Lewis said young tech workers must have improved internet access here or they're going to move to cities such as Chattanooga.
The revolution's effort to reduce internet prices includes requests for production (RFPs), where 24 local broadband companies will submit bids to provide companies with broadband connection.
Kelly said those bids, which should include rates for gigabit internet access, will be released Friday. He expects York County companies to get "unbelievable" proposals thanks to the high number of interested organizations near each other.
Other speakers during the meeting included U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County, United Fiber & Data CEO and founder Bill Hynes, York County Economic Alliance Interim CEO Loren Kroh and York College Dean of the Center for Community Engagement Dominic DelliCarpini.
York County Commissioners Susan Byrnes, Doug Hoke and Chris Reilly were also in attendance.
The Gigabit Revolution will host another meeting in May, which Lewis said he hopes will draw at least 200 residents.
— Reach David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org.