New Analysis Shows Need for Broadband Service Improvement in Rural Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, PA – Broadband service improvements are needed across Pennsylvania, but the most significant need is among rural counties, according to a new analysis of broadband speed test data by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

“For years, we’ve been well aware that broadband access is lacking in rural areas and the pandemic has made that need even more apparent,” said Sen. Gene Yaw, chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board of Directors. “This report by the Center continues to demonstrate the need for broadband in rural Pennsylvania, and it can help to inform state, county, and local officials on where broadband service is needed most.”

The Center estimated broadband connectivity in Pennsylvania’s rural and urban counties using data from Measurement Lab (M-Lab), which measured the download and upload speeds of internet users throughout Pennsylvania. M-Lab is a consortium of research, industry, and public-interest partners providing verifiable measurement of global network performance.

The Center’s analysis included data from nearly 3 million upload and download speed tests taken throughout Pennsylvania in calendar year 2021. The data were provided to the Center by a collaboration between Exactly Labs and X-Lab, a non-partisan technology and policy institute at Penn State University.

Using these data, the Center identified areas that continue to lack significant access to broadband internet service. The data indicated that, while there is need across Pennsylvania for improved broadband service, the counties most in need, and most eligible for aid under federal programs, are rural, and are in the Central Susquehanna Valley region (Juniata, Perry, and Snyder counties), por­tions of the Pennsylvania Wilds (Cameron, Clarion, Elk, and Forest counties), and the northeast (Susquehanna and Wyoming counties), as well as Greene County in the southwest and Crawford County in the northwest.

“This report also demonstrates the need for granular data – below the county-level – to help guide new broadband build-out efforts,” said Dr. Kyle C. Kopko, Center executive director.  “It is critical that the Commonwealth take a data-informed approach to wisely invest federal funds in the communities that are in the greatest need of broadband access.” 

For a copy of the report, Pennsylvania Broadband Access: A Speed Test Analysis, visit https://www.rural.pa.gov/publications/research-reports.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Center works with the legislature, educators, state and federal executive branch agencies, and national, statewide, regional and local organizations to maximize resources and strategies that can better serve Pennsylvania’s nearly 3.4 million rural residents.

Contact:

Christine Caldara PiatosCommunications Manager

Center for Rural Pennsylvania

A Legislative Agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly