A yearlong high-speed Internet research project by SEDA-Council of Governments has culminated in public presentations to nearly 500 people, with direct assistance provided to 28 companies and organizations. As part of this project, a total of $44,550 in mini-grants was awarded to four area businesses and entities, helping them get better high-speed Internet service.
SEDA-Council of Governments’ Status of Broadband project helped each of them reduce costs, increase efficiency and productivity.
Jim Baker, head of the Information Technologies Group at SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG), said the project is necessary, especially in more rural areas, to help businesses thrive.
“Broadband has been touted as the solution to many problems – low efficiency, high costs, poor communications, and more. It absolutely is – when businesses can access it. Our project has helped bridge that gap,” Baker said.
The Lycoming County Water & Sewer Authority’s operations and customer service capabilities will improve as they use broadband to implement a network and use mobile technology across its service territory, assisted by a $15,000 grant.
Authority staff will be able to access and input real-time information in the field and in the office, saving travel, time and costs. They will be equipped with cellular-enabled tablets running mobile maps and apps over an Internet base. Additional Wi-Fi access points will be added in office locations lacking a cellular connection.
The technology also will assist Authority staff in performing tasks such as customer lateral inspections, compliance inspections, equipment history, pipe age or deficiencies, customer data, and more. Response times in emergencies can improve with this technology.
The Authority, located at 380 Old Cement Road, Montoursville, serves 10 sewer and water systems in 12 municipalities in Lycoming County and reaches over 8,500 customers. The sprawling nature of the authority’s facilities created a need for mapping and information in a mobile, real-time, and accessible electronic format.
For Mifflin County Solid Waste Authority, grants totaling $15,000 allowed the unification of the Authority’s two business sites sharing a high-speed Internet (broadband) network enabling the use of cloud-based software applications and telephony. This will increase operational efficiencies, lower recurrent costs, and provide the most current software versions at all times for the Authority located at 87 Landfill Road, Lewistown.
The grant covers a portion of their project including construction costs of the fiber, the installation and setup of the technology, mail server and webpage management, and a security enhancement so sites on the Authority’s property can be remotely monitored.
The Authority is a key service provider in offering waste transfer and disposal services to Mifflin and Juniata counties’ residents and businesses, and in providing recycling services in Mifflin County.
Williamsport Electric Inc., 3728 Rt 15 Highway, Montgomery received a $10,963 grant to extend broadband Internet service to the business and implement a network upgrade of a VOIP phone system.
The project was completed in May and has provided reliable telephone services, greater capacity of high-speed Internet services, and a network upgrade to VOIP phones. The upgrade to broadband has also assisted with increased operational functions between the other branches of the BJ Baldwin Electric group of companies.
Now Williamsport Electric can import drawings, project documents and data from customers quickly which increases the turn-around time for projects. The broadband service has provided information-sharing capabilities that were not previously available with DSL service.
Williamsport Electric Inc. provides services to commercial and industrial businesses in the areas of electrical and utility contracting, fiber optic and voice data installation, sub-station and high voltage installation, PLC and control panel designs and installation.
TurnKey Construction Inc., 2440 Lycoming Creek Road, Williamsport, will receive a $3,587 grant to upgrade its computer network back-up system, which will restore business operations much more reliably than the current system’s capability in the event of a technology failure. The new solution will reduce the costs of downtime, reduce the risk and exposure of permanent data loss, and remove the manual maintenance of the current backup solution. This should result in job retention and increased profits for the company. High-speed Internet, or broadband, is essential to the project’s success.
The company is a general contractor specializing in commercial, residential and institutional construction in north central Pennsylvania since 1992.
Broadband is crucial for the viability of local communities by enabling business environments to thrive and encouraging increased economic development.
SEDA-COG’s project sought to show those who were unserved how to obtain a connection, and help those who already have broadband to maximize their use of it through training, publications, direct technical assistance and referrals. Businesses, organizations and local governments within the 11-county SEDA-COG region that had a need for broadband-related technology were eligible to work with SEDA-COG to apply for grants up to $15,000.
It was a statewide competitive process made possible by a $100,000 state grant from the Broadband Outreach and Aggregation Fund, managed by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.