Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission survey looks to help expand broadband internet access

Murrysville officials are considering using some of its $1.9 million in American Rescue Plan money to expand broadband internet access.

“I think it’s vital,” Murrysville Chief Administrator Jim Morrison told Murrysville Council members this week. He encouraged residents to complete a survey being undertaken by the nonprofit Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s Connected Initiative to learn about broadband access across the six counties the commission serves.

“It will be the forerunner to identifying programs that can take advantage of the American Rescue Plan funds to extend broadband service in this region,” Morrison said.

Murrysville is slated to receive just over $1.9 million in ARP funding, and earlier this month brought aboard a consultant to help determine the best way to use it.

Extending broadband access has been on the minds of many groups statewide.

This summer, the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units and Penn State Extension conducted a survey to determine students’ home access to internet. Its purpose was to help school districts identify pockets without internet access, and have internet-related data available for grant applications including the $7.1 Emergency Connectivity Fund launched by the Federal Communications Commission in May.

Funded with ARP dollars, it aims to “enable schools and libraries to purchase laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hot spots, and broadband connectivity for students, school staff, and library patrons in need during the covid-19 pandemic,” according to an FCC release.

Morrison said he hopes all residents take the new survey.

“In a community like Murrysville, we have homes that not only demand a lot of broadband, but also individuals who are working from home and need high-speed internet as an alternative to traveling in to Pittsburgh,” he said.

The Connected Initiative, which includes partners Allies for Children and Carnegie Mellon University, aims to help create a roadmap for expanding broadband internet access by collecting a prioritizing a sort of pipeline of connectivity projects and initiatives to secure the funding to make them happen.

To take the survey, see and click “Take the Online Survey” link in the “SWPA Connected” box.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, or via Twitter .


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