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Broadband coming to Grand Valley

The combined effort of a private internet service provider and the Warren County Commissioners — along with some CARES Act funding — will bring broadband internet service to Grand Valley.

A total of $19,025 in federal COVID-19 relief funding was awarded by the commissioners for the project.

Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said MobileCom is in the process of entering the internet service provider space and is already working in Forest and Venango counties.

Kafferlin went around the county with a representative of the firm to look at “vertical assets” that could efficiently support the expansion of broadband.

Grand Valley was an area where it made sense and is “one they definitely can do,” he said.

Of the just over $3.5 million in pandemic relief the county was awarded, $450,000 has been set aside for broadband initiatives.

“The total investment from this part is $19,025,” he said, moting there would be another bill — less than $10,000 — down the road to complete the project.

“For less than $30,000,” he said, “(we) can support getting broadband into Grand Valley.”

Kafferlin said the service “would essentially beam the broadband to about a mile or so from the center of town” with the possibility to “daisy chain beyond that first mile.”

He suggested the funds set aside for broadband projects are available to any community that can partner with an ISP to provide the service.

He noted, though, that there might not be a lot of “opportunity” elsewhere in the county because of the placement of fiber lines and towers. There is “no single way to get broadband” to the entire county but said this is a “very affordable option” for Grand Valley.

The allocation approved on Wednesday would purchase some of the equipment.

“(It) would be our equipment in that sense,” Kafferlin said, explaining that MobilCom’s “business model wouldn’t make sense” without the subsidized equipment.

“I think this is a worthwhile project,” Commissioner Tricia Durbin said, “to try to at least use some of the money earmarked for broadband to a community for a fairly reasonable price.”

“I can see potentially other opportunities popping up,” Kafferlin said, if proposed legislation to extend the deadline for spending CARES Act funding — currently the end of 2020 — is approved.

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