You have questions, we have the answers.
This page is dedicated to answering some of the most common project questions we have received. As the project is ongoing, this page will be updated with more recent FAQs.
If your question is not answered by the information found on this website, we ask you to send us your question on the contact us page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Last updated June 6th, 2022
The Connect Beaver County Broadband Program will bring broadband access to parts of 24 municipalities across the County in areas that are unserved and underserved. The program includes FIVE KEY ACTIONS to close the digital divide:
- New Broadband Service
- Digital Navigator Program
- Connect County-owned Towers via Fiber
- Broadband Utility Connection Fund
- Continued Digital Equity and Data Collection Analyses
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) currently defines high-speed internet at 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload, which is not adequate given the speeds required for today’s lifestyle such as teleworking, conducting schoolwork, and managing social needs. For the purposes of this program, underserved and unserved are defined as follows:
- Unserved - Locations with no access to wired internet service at speeds that meet the FCC threshold of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, meaning the internet connection is slow and unreliable or nonexistent.
- Underserved - Locations where internet service is at or above the FCC threshold but with no access to wired broadband service at speeds 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload, this can lead to slow or unreliable service.
A Broadband Data Collection & Feasibility Study was completed in October 2021. The findings from the study provided an inventory of poor mobile and fixed broadband speed locations, called Connectivity Opportunity Areas for future broadband expansion. The recommendations in that study were:
- Secure a Program Management Firm
- Provide a Phased Approach for New Service
- Perform Two Broadband Implementation Early Action Projects
- Request Bids from Providers to Serve Opportunity Areas
- Connect County Owned Towers via Fiber
- Develop a Broadband Utility Connection Fund
- Develop a Digital Navigator Program
- Further Data Collection on Mobile Connectivity and Future Unserved Areas
The Beaver County Broadband Data Collection & Feasibility Study identified locations that are unserved and underserved with poor mobile and fixed broadband service speeds as top priorities for access to new service. Visit the About the Program page to see the Beaver County Broadband Connectivity Opportunity Areas identified map.
Beaver County Office of Planning & Redevelopment is advancing the Connect Beaver County Broadband Program to deliver high-speed internet to the communities across the County that need it most. The Beaver County Planning Commission has provided critical support and leadership through the planning phase and leading to program development.
This initiative will use nearly $20 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and aims to be completed by December 2024. This program will cover the initial cost to provide a physical connection to the unserved and underserved locations identified.
The County has contracted with Michael Baker International to manage the program and the County will contract with multiple Internet Service Providers to expand broadband service.
To support broadband access, adoption, and digital equity needs, a Digital Navigator Program will be developed to provide support to people who need help using the internet. Digital navigators are trained staff who will work with residents on digital literacy including home connectivity, device set up, and digital skill building. Digital navigators are also familiar with how to apply for social service resources online and provide guidance upon request.
No. Mobile wireless connectivity is spotty throughout the county. The mapping the FCC uses is in the process of being updated. As part of this program, Beaver County is performing a Mobile Connectivity Study in late 2022 to submit allowable challenges to the federal data as to best support the pursuit of mobile broadband funding.
The County has identified Connectivity Opportunity Areas in 24 municipalities. The Project Team is working with the Internet Service Providers to establish a specific timeline for expanding service into those areas that have been identified as unserved and underserved. If your location is not included in the Opportunity Area map and your area is currently unserved, please contact us for more information.
The planning process to determine how the county towers are functioning is currently underway. A firmer target date to begin work will be shared along with more details on the scope of work this fall.
It is an acronym for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund which is a federally operated program through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the FCC’s latest initiative designed to bring high-speed fixed broadband service to rural areas of the country that are considered unserved (25 mbps download/3 mbps upload). RDOF will disburse up to $20.4 billion over 10 years to bring fixed broadband to unserved locations in rural America. Phase I of the RDOF started in 2020 and carriers must complete deployment of service by the 8th year of the program. Windstream is providing service to the RDOF locations in Beaver County.
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