Friday, April 24, 2009

Broadband For All Western PA Communities is the Goal of World Affairs Council Program

Bringing broadband connectivity to underserved communities in Western Pennsylvania is the goal of a state-funded program overseen by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.

The WAC Broadband Outreach program assists members of communities not served by high-speed Internet service in taking advantage of state legislation requiring phone companies to provide such service if demand reaches a designated level.

The Pennsylvania legislature recently enacted a new law requiring Verizon and other telephone companies to give their Pennsylvania customers an opportunity to complete a Bona Fide Retail Request (BFRR) for high-speed Internet service.

That means a certain portion of residents in a specified community must commit to purchase high-speed Internet service for a year. The required number is 50 customers or 25 percent of the telephone lines in the community, whichever is less. If that number is met, the carrier is required to provide high-speed Internet service in that area within 12 months.

Through the BFRR program, Verizon said it will make high-speed Internet service available in up to 40 Carrier Serving Areas each year.

As part of its ongoing educational outreach programs, the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh is working with the PA Department of Community & Economic Development to help people in the region get connected.

"Today’s students will grow up as citizens of a global power and participants in an increasingly global marketplace," said Brandon Wallace, Community Programs Director at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. "Being connected to the rest of the world is key to the growth of our students, enhancing instruction, raising their standards of achievement, and preparing them to compete for the best jobs.

"Having access to high-speed internet is, therefore, a priority for our state in its ability to compete globally. Much of our region currently has access to broadband, but many areas where there is low population density and physical remoteness lack access to this connectivity."

For more information and access to the necessary forms, go to the World Affairs Council website at www.worldaffairspittsburgh.org.

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