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Monroe County, PA: Driving Private Sector Investment In Broadband

November 20, 2017

According to the Pocono Record, gigabit broadband service is now available in Monroe County, Penn.—and no taxpayer money was used to bring the service to the rural community, which is located just 100 miles outside of New York City.

Last year, East Stroudsburg University, the Monroe 2030 Action Team, the Pocono Mountain Economic Development Corporation, and other public entities created the Monroe Gigabit Project (MGP). The group’s mission is to bring more competition to Monroe County and to reduce consumer broadband costs.

Instead of pursuing a taxpayer-funded municipal broadband network, however, the group devoted itself to working with the private sector. As the Record explains, this past April, MGP issue a request for proposal (RFP) “seeking private-sector investments in local broadband.” Four private ISPs responded to the RFP and one, Blue Ridge Communications, just launched gigabit service in two Monroe County communities. The service will cost residents $130 a month.

The other three companies have committed to, or already are, making additional investments in Monroe County.

Government Technology explained in June that MGP’s “goals include tripling the number of organizations using gigabit-speed Internet, reducing broadband prices for the aggregate by 50 percent or more, and attracting private investment of more than $1 million in new broadband infrastructure countywide.” Former State Rep. Kelly Lewis called the effort “one of the biggest rural broadband projects in the country” and noted that the four companies are making “million-dollar” investments in the community.

Today, more than 99 percent of Monroe County customers have access to broadband with speeds up to 25 megabits per second and nearly 98 percent have access to 100 mbps speeds.