Lagging internet options hurt region, need quick solution

It’s not a secret that a significant portion of our lives – especially the working part of it – is heavily impacted by usage of broadband Internet.

So when residents of our region don’t have adequate Internet service, they are probably working at a competitive disadvantage professionally.

And there are other disadvantages that many of us take for granted.

“Would you consider buying a home or moving to a home that doesn’t have broadband,” Ronald Cowan, vice president of Geisinger Medical Center’s IT department, asked rhetorically at a conference last week hosted by Rep. Tom Marino, a Cogan Station Republican, on poor rural Internet options.

Cowan added that Geisinger won’t buy a clinic or a hospital where there is no broadband internet and its clinics have come to rely on patients having internet for communication purposes.

We can’t imagine Geisinger is an outlier.

In fact, farmers, probably the last people most of us would consider internet dependent, are very reliant on reliable internet service.

And our region represents the perfect internet storm. It is comparatively rural, relies heavily on agriculture and is pocked with internet dead zones.

The purpose of Marino’s conference was to gain insight on the depth of the problem and embark on solutions.

The congressman, who probably had an inkling internet access is a problem in much of our region, found out just how widespread the problem is.

But that’s only step one. A practical solution has to be figured out and then a plan has to be formed to solve a problem that is impacting much of the business and residential populous of our region.

And it has to happen fast.