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Allegheny

Pa. Utility Commission wants to know: How fast is your internet?

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, 11:48 a.m.

Pennsylvania residents, businesses and community organizations are being asked to take part in an internet speed test.

The year-long initiative from the state’s Public Utility Commission and the Center for Rural Pennsylvania is part of an effort to map the state’s “digital divide.”

“The data from these tests will help us generate a ‘real-world’ picture of internet access speeds across Pennsylvania and help identify the areas of greatest need,” PUC Commissioner Norman J. Kennard said. “The better our maps, the clearer our understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing our communities, and the better equipped we will be to identify the necessary resources to move Pennsylvania forward.”

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is sponsoring the research by Penn State University, which is using the data to analyze and assess broadband availability across the state.

To participate, visit the testing website at broadbandtest.us . The speed test takes about 30 seconds and automatically sends data to researchers. It also displays a summary of the results for participants.

The tests do not collect personal identifying information.

The research is being led by Penn State professor Sascha Meinrath.

“For far too long, advertised broadband speeds and availability have been treated as ground truth, resulting in persistent discrepancies that have stymied efforts to address the economic and social detriments faced by communities on the wrong side of the digital divide,” Meinrath said. “Our research empowers Pennsylvania officials and the general public with accurate information about the current state of broadband connectivity, both across the commonwealth and within our own communities.”

The PUC has raised concerns about the impact of lost federal broadband funding fueling a growing economic divide between communities and businesses that have access to higher internet speeds, and those that do not.

The commission has supported the launch of a new statewide broadband investment incentive program and has launched a rulemaking process intended to more quickly resolve disputes over access to utility poles, which it says is a key issue for enhanced broadband deployment.

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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