Adequate infrastructure is critical to the health and growth of communities. In addition to good roads, water, and electricity, reliable telecommunications is essential for resident safety and business operations. Unfortunately, telecommunications service, especially broadband internet, is either limited or nonexistent in significant portions of Montour and Columbia counties. The Columbia Montour Chamber recently joined with municipalities in northern Montour County in asking state legislators to work with potential providers to improve telecommunications infrastructure.
In underserved areas, cellular technology could be a viable option for homes and smaller businesses. However, many of these same areas also lack adequate cellular coverage. While speeds and network coverage in more populated areas are being improved, the carriers do not appear to be investing significantly in our rural areas to expand coverage.
From a regulatory standpoint, only the public utilities are compelled to provide a basic level of service. Today’s telecommunications marketplace offers other potential vendors. The Chamber is suggesting that funding policies should be modernized to provide incentives and assistance to these companies that is currently only available to the regulated utilities. This deficiency not only puts public safety as risk, but may cost our area job creating opportunities.