Broadband Communities

JAN-FEB 2018

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 nonmanufacturers and community anchor institutions throughout Pennsylvania. It worked with nearly 100 companies to assess their broadband needs and help them apply for funding for broadband-related microgrants. Microgrants were applied to such needs as upgrading equipment, building or improving websites, and protecting the security of customer data. PennTAP also provided 44 student interns to businesses throughout Pennsylvania. "e students were integral to the program," says Tanna Pugh, director of PennTAP. "It's a win-win situation." Client companies benefited from young, enthusiastic, tech-savvy workers who knew about subjects such as search engine optimization, social media marketing and e-commerce. Students got experiential learning, and 10 of them received offers of permanent jobs from the companies they helped. Pugh says that even in the broadband age, the importance of sending interns to work on-site with the client companies can't be overstated. "So many people want to do things from afar," she says, "but there's still a need to get out there and work locally. … Relationships need to be built. e students need to understand the companies." PROGRAM RESULTS Pennsylvania's Broadband Technical Assistance Program paid off handsomely. Every dollar of federal money generated $6 of private investment, and the program achieved $103.2 million in increased business revenues or cost savings. Close to 1,500 jobs were created or retained, and 134 libraries enhanced their public access facilities. However, though Pennsylvania's broadband initiatives put the state in a better position, the target continues to move. Today's definition of broadband is far higher than 1.5 Mbps, and there are many new broadband applications that businesses should be adopting. About 800,000 households still lack internet access at the speeds considered necessary today. Sheri Collins, deputy secretary for technology and innovation at the DCED, says, "ere's still work to do. Governor Wolf has put a strong emphasis on trying to tackle broadband issues, especially in the 52 counties considered rural. … After talking with businesspeople, parents and students who were having a hard time connecting, he recognizes the need for better, faster, more affordable internet access." One of today's challenges, she says, is coordinating all the state agencies to make sure they all are "marching to the same beat" in developing a broadband strategy. v Masha Zager is the editor of Broad B and Communities . You can reach her at masha@bbcmag.com.

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