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Verizon and NEPA to aid country folk with broadband

By TOM KANE

DAMASCUS, PA - If you live in the beautiful Damascus countryside, you may have a lot of tranquility but you most likely have to use dial-up to access the Internet. But that may change soon.

“We want [Damascus residents] to have the advantages of broadband service like the rest of the community,” said Brian Langan of the Northeast Pennsylvania Alliance (NEPA) during the monthly meeting of the Damascus Township Board on November 17.

NEPA is a regional community and economic development organization in the northeast region of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that provides services that aim to improve the economy of the region and the quality of life of its constituents.

NEPA, Verizon and a company called Valley Technologies are focusing on rural communities like Damascus in order to enlist at least 50 phone customers or 25 percent of phone users in a service area, whichever is less, who are interested in receiving this service.

A representative of Valley Technologies is going door-to-door to drum up the required number.

“A broadband assessment study identified that a majority of residents and a large portion of businesses are still using dial-up connections to access the Internet,” Langan said.

Both residents and businesses said that high-speed services are too expensive and they will need help getting the broadband providers to serve their area, he said. This offer is an attempt to offer the service at a reduced rate.

The introductory cost will be $9.99 a month for six months if you are a Verizon customer, Langan said. Thereafter, it will cost $19.99. If you are not a Verizon customer, the cost is $19.99 from the start. Any phone customer out of this defined area who does not have broadband should contact Verizon.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has enacted Act 183 of the PA telecommunications modernization law to provide assistance for outreach programs regarding the benefits, use and procurement of broadband services, as well as aggregating customer demand in communities with little or no broadband services, Langan said.

NEPA is promoting this program in Wayne, Pike, Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe and Schuylkill counties.

Telephone companies use maps to divide specific geographic areas into Carrier Serving Areas (CSA). Usually, a CSA will include all the homes and businesses within a two-mile range of the terminals.

For more information call NEPA at 570/655-5581.