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Expansion of broadband internet important

The expansion of broadband internet in Tioga and Lycoming counties, which the Williamsport Sun-Gazette reported on in Friday’s edition, is important for many reasons.

The expanded coverage, including amplifying towers and sites near the Middlebury Center Fire Hall and near Ansonia, Asaph and Barbours, will help residents of Tioga County and northern Lycoming County stay in touch with family and friends. It will help businesses be more competitive and adaptable to the modern economy.

One marketing firm projects online commerce will have grown by 13.7% this year and reach $908 billion in sales. This follows a year that saw online sales increase by 31.7% from 2019. Statista.com pegs online sales in the U.S. at 11% of all sales. Rural Pennsylvania’s small and medium-sized businesses need the tools to compete and thrive in this climate.

And as the pandemic demonstrated, workers and students benefit from an ability to pivot to online work and education when needed. The virtual classrooms of 2020 were challenging for many reasons — the technological obstacles to connecting are one of the reasons we can address and improve.

More importantly, it will enable first responders in the most rural parts of our region to remain in communication with each other, helping them respond more effectively to fires and emergencies. The system upgrades are designed to give first responders an appropriate and necessary degree of priority.

“We have a responsibility … and couldn’t be more pleased to support the public safety mission,” AT&T Pennsylvania President David Kerr said.

“We don’t spend money in Tioga County, we invest money. We invest in the people,” Tioga County Commissioner Erick Coolidge said. First responders “need these tools to do their job safely and effectively.”

We couldn’t agree more with Kerr and Coolidge, and are grateful for the efforts to equip first responders as well as businesses and consumers with the tools to be successful in the 21st-Century economy.

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