Mifflin County residents have been affected by the coronavirus by requiring people to work, learn and see doctors from home during the quarantine and subsequent phases of shutdown and reopening. There are many areas of the County that do not have access to reliable broadband connections.

A publicly owned and operated hot spot network in some of our most remote areas that lack traditional broadband coverage would provide access to workplaces, educators and doctors. The county is open to working with public and quasi-public entities to build-out the equipment necessary to have key hotspots in publicly accessible areas to allow for education, tele-work, and telemedicine appointments to occur in areas that are un- and underserved by broadband internet connectivity.

Also, there are many existing broadband internet providers in the county that could possibly benefit from expansion projects into un-and underserved areas of the County. Broadband deployment grants will also be available for expansion of services. The County is willing to entertain proposals from providers that are able to document the increase capacity to a significant extent during the current pandemic that would increase the connectivity by individuals with the need for distance learning and telework that would not be necessary if not for need of the current public health emergency. All expansion projects must be operational by the time of the termination of the current public health emergency or by December 30, 2020, whichever comes sooner.

Broadband expansion will provide workers with improved ability to telework and allow students to access educational facilities to continue distance learning. Telemedicine increases access to healthcare while reducing potential exposure to the coronavirus.

"Reliable broadband internet is more important than ever as we try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Residents need access to reliable broadband in order to access remote education, telework, and medical care. Now, more than ever, is the prime time for providers to be able to expand internet access in Mifflin County." CHASTITY FULTZ, MIFFLIN COUNTY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATOR