York County set to invest further in broadband services

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York County, in its quest to expand broadband internet access, is looking to bridge the "middle mile."

In telecommunications, that middle mile is the infrastructure that carry large amounts of data between regional hubs and the individual customers both in urban and rural settings.

On Wednesday, the Board of Commissioners will consider a contract with the Alabama-based Lit Communities to do just that. The exact value of that contract is still subject to negotiation but won't exceed $20 million, according to the county's meeting documents.

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In addition to the contract for design and preparation, York County will also consider a contract with Lit Communities for last-mile services — that is, localized infrastructure at the point where consumers connect to the Internet — in New Freedom, Railroad, Glen Rock and Seven Valleys boroughs. The motion is pending negotiations and comes at no additional cost to the county.

Creating a broadband network has been a priority for York County, including the completion of a 16-mile fiber optic network broadband network across the Heritage Rail Trail to provide wi-fi last year. The county also voted in July 2021 to allocate up to $25 million of its American Rescue Plan Act funding towards recommendations by the YoCo Fiber Optic Task Force.

"This milestone today is not only a first step into closing the digital divide for all residents, but it also provides all users of the Heritage Rail Trail internet access so they can navigate the towns which they will be visiting," President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said last year.

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In addition to the motions on broadband, York County will also accept a $38,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of State to help cover election administration costs.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the York County Administrative Center, 28 E. Market St., York. It is also streamed on York County's Facebook page.

Normally, county commission meetings are held at 10 a.m. However, York County spokesperson Ted Czech said this meeting and another meeting in September will be held at night to accommodate the members of the public who cannot make the normal morning meetings.

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.