High Speed ​​Internet Comes to Scenery Hill | Local News

The decision to extend high-speed internet to Scenery Hill has sparked excitement among residents and business owners who believe the service will help them improve their small town along Route 40.

Washington County commissioners in their voting meeting on Thursday unanimously approved a contract with DQE Communications of Pittsburgh to extend high-speed internet service to 97 homes and five businesses in the village in the heart of North Township Bethlehem.

The contract will install 1.3 miles of broadband cabling at a cost of $188,528, though the county will only have to pay $35,528 using federal stimulus money from American Rescue. Play Act, with the DQE bearing the remaining costs. The plan is part of Washington County’s overall effort to extend high-speed Internet to underserved communities where service is slow or unreliable.

“There are a lot of young families who have moved to this area,” North Bethlehem supervisor James Dudt said of Scenery Hill. “As we see people moving to more rural areas after the pandemic, they are looking for affordable housing and looking to get out of town. One of the complaints is that they can’t access (high speed internet). This changes things.

It’s also an opportunity to boost Scenery Hill’s business community and help make it a tourist destination for travelers along the historic National Highway. Dudt singled out the popular Century Inn restaurant and how it could one day host business conferences using broadband services that could enable online seminars or remote guests.

“Families’ lives change when they get high-speed internet,” Dudt said. “From an e-commerce perspective, doing business and attracting other businesses is no longer a limiting factor. You can’t start a business if you don’t have good internet.

That was good news for April Harrington, whose family owns the Century Inn. Although the company has internet, the slow speed sometimes interferes with its point-of-sale system and when it needs to communicate with customers via email.

“Without high-speed internet, these things don’t always work well, and if they don’t work well, we don’t have a business that works,” she said.

The restaurant hosts many parties and wedding receptions, so Harrington thinks another benefit will be offering video conferences for parents from other cities to join in if they can’t attend in person. But she also thinks high-speed internet access will benefit residents who want to work remotely from home and businesses trying to make Scenery Hill a destination for travelers.

” I’m a little bit surprised. I thought we were overlooked, but I’m glad about that,” Harrington said. “The community is working hard to bring Scenery Hill back to where it was as a destination.”

DQE sales manager Joe McGuinness said the company already has a fiber optic network nearby, so expansion to Scenery Hill could be done relatively easily and inexpensively.

“After researching, we found this to be an underserved area,” McGuinness said in a written statement. “It made sense to assess this area as a potential broadband expansion. We could save money on construction by using existing fiber installations and pole attachment fees. »

It’s also what has made it attractive to county officials as they work to expand broadband internet with the help of federal stimulus funds. The county recently completed a similar project to connect high-speed Internet to parts of Jefferson Township near Avella as part of a pilot program. In a joint press release issued after their meeting on Thursday, county commissioners said it was a low-cost project they hope can be rolled out to other areas as part of the initiative to broadband.

The Washington County Authority is in charge of the program and issues requests for proposals in other parts of the county. So far, the response from private companies seeking to extend services to rural areas has been encouraging and more projects will be approved in the coming months, said the authority’s executive director, John Timney.

“We are beyond thrilled with this level of attention,” Timney said.

It was unclear when installation on the Scenery Hill expansion project would begin or be completed.

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