Broadband expansion turning into ‘jobs program,’ leaving rural residents behind

(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania is looking at $1.6 billion to expand broadband to rural and overlooked parts of the state, but experts are warning that the process puts the government in the way of success.

Pennsylvania, too, may face hurdles that other states simply don’t.

“One thing keeps getting in the way, and it’s called government,” Huntingdon County Commissioner Jeff Thomas told lawmakers during a House GOP Policy Committee meeting on Tuesday. Local, state and federal governments, he said, undermined each other and put a stop to getting more towers up and fiber-optic cables in the ground.

Getting money from one agency meant that another agency would reduce awards from another, Thomas said. Putting one agency’s priority ahead of the broader goal to expand broadband can stop other efforts.

Access to poles to add equipment is a long-standing issue. Another is putting a new tower or getting a right-of-way on public
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