2018-02-10 / News

Seeks broader cell coverage

Finding a mobile phone signal in the Pennsylvania Wilds can be a frustrating experience.

Despite frequent pressure from public officials and residents, carriers do not see enough of a customer base in the county to justify the multi-million-dollar infrastructure expense and logistical challenges.

Cameron County Commissioners Lori Reed, Phil Jones and Jim Thomas have recently taken their frustrations to Rep. Martin Causer, a Republican in the Pa. House of Representative and chair of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

Rural lawmakers have been calling for state and federal government support of technology infrastructure – particularly broadband internet and mobile phone coverage. Some compare it to the rural electrification movement or even the extension of paved roads into sparsely populated areas.

“We’re in pretty good shape with internet here, but it’s cell coverage we need help with,” Commissioner Reed noted.

In 2014, Verizon Wireless embarked on a project designed to expand broadband to almost 90 percent of Potter County. Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative is also working on a plan to bring internet service to its members. Still, many sections of Potter County lack mobile phone coverage.

Commissioner Jones acknowledged the difficulty in getting a commitment from any private company that is inherently motivated by profit potential.

“We just don’t have the population numbers they’re looking for,” Jones said. “In Potter County, the gas drilling companies have played a part in pushing for more coverage. We’re hoping the same thing may happen here in the future.”

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