Snyder County businesses, residents frustrated by internet issues | News

MOUNT PLEASANT MILLS — Residents of this rural Snyder County community have been frustrated by the unreliable internet service they say has impeded their ability to work.

“My internet was out for the entire month of October,” said Victor Abate, an accountant with a York firm who often works remotely.

During that time, Abate said, he went to friends’ homes in Middleburg and Paxtonville to use their internet service.

Kim Ebright, owner of Kratzer Insurance, in Mount Pleasant Mills, had to set up a hot spot so he and his two employees could conduct business earlier this month.

“If you want any kind of growth you need reliable, high-speed internet,” he said. “It’s an integral part of a business and without it, the bottom line suffers.”

Calls to the internet provider, Zito Media, of Coudersport, have had little impact, said Ebright and Abate.

“No action has been taken,” said Ebright who continues to pay full price for spotty service.

Abate said he was offered a $10 discount.

Zito representatives did not respond to The Daily Item’s inquiry.

Mount Pleasant Mills resident Scott Shaffer said his wife, Melanie Garman-Shaffer, who also operates an insurance agency in the community, wasn’t able to use a hot spot for her business when the internet service was down.

“We can’t stream movies on the weekend. It just buffers,” he said.

Ebright said his frustration is with local politicians who campaigned on the platform of expanding broadband and bringing high-speed internet to the area.

“It’s our number one economic development issue,” said Snyder County Commissioner Joe Kantz. “Time is money and, if you have slow internet, it costs money.”

The county is working to build infrastructures to expand broadband with a $3 million, multi-county project led by DRIVE (Driving Real Innovation for A Vibrant Economy) and is negotiating with providers.

It will take about a year or two to get companies to provide service, he said, and despite efforts to increase the availability of fast, reliable internet service, there will always be remote areas in the county that won’t have access.

“If you live in the Valley between two mountains, you pretty sure won’t get WiFi,” said Kantz.

Joe Schmadel, president of Sun Pre Cast Inc. in Beaver Springs, became so frustrated with the lack of high-speed internet that he contracted with Verizon to install fiber optic cable about two years ago.

“It cost us a little, but the difference (in service speed) is like night and day,” said Schmadel who has operated the business since 1978. “We get information much faster now.”

For years, Nick Gilson, the co-owner of Gilson Boards in Winfield, complained about the lack of reliable high-speed internet that was so important to the business’s success.

Working with state and local representatives, he said, they were able to obtain service from Service Electric a couple of years ago.

“It’s truly revolutionized our business,” said Gilson, as well as kept the business in Winfield.

State Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver said funding is becoming available to address broadband issues and constituents who have unreliable internet service should contact their state representative.

“They need to make us aware so we know where they are,” she said, adding that lawmakers are hoping to designate hot spots and open up competition to drive down costs.

“It won’t be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution,” Culver added, due to the Valley geography that makes it impossible to provide high-speed internet access in all areas.

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