HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Dependable internet is not a luxury anymore, and the federal government is spending billions to close the so-called “digital divide.”
Limited access to stable a stable internet connection is impacting a wide range of people throughout Pennsylvania and across the nation.
The Northern York Regional Police Department (NYRPD) is located in a picturesque valley, which is pretty but also has pretty unreliable internet.
“The lack of wireless communications and internet access is not limited to this valley, but it repeats itself again and again throughout this part of York County,” said Chief Dave Lash of the NYRPD.
Lash said the poor internet recently hindered a search and rescue operation because first responders could not talk with each other.
“We need constant and consistent wireless connectivity during major events to protect public safety,” Lash added.
The federal government, which has allocated $42 billion to ensure all Americans have reliable and affordable internet, wants to help.
“Dollars I didn’t vote for, but dollars I am now entrusted to be the guardian of. And making sure they’re efficiently and effectively driven out to actually close the digital divide,” said Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York County).
But who will get this money? The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made a map with every address on it. If an area is labeled as “served,” it will not receive funding. “Unserved” areas will receive funding, but the map has some issues.
“It inaccurately reports some areas as being ‘served’ with high-speed internet when they are, in fact, not,” said Brandon Carson of the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority.
Officials want Pennsylvanians to view the map, enter their addresses, and ensure that their homes/workplaces are accurately represented by the FCC.
“You need to speak up. You need to check out that map,” said Phillips-Hill. “It’s not lost on me that we are asking people who do not have access to the internet to visit a website to see if they have internet, right, that’s crazy.”
When first responders can’t communicate with each other, despite the national broadband map claiming the police department has 100 percent coverage, it’s clear the FCC’s map needs input.
“The maps are wrong. We need your help to correct them. Please help us help you and have your voices heard,” said Lash.
The FCC wants you to challenge their maps if you think it’s incorrect, however, the deadline is January 13.