Just about two years ago Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced a new initiative to increase access to broadband internet for residents and businesses throughout Erie County and it looks like our local government is going to get some help to make that plan a reality.

According to a report by WKBW-TV, it was announced at a press conference that Erie County is receiving some additional COVID-19 related relief funding from the Federal government and some of those funds will be used to help fund the cost of installing fiber optic cable throughout Erie County.

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Erie Net is the name of the new open-access broadband fiber internet service network that will be available. In his 2019 State of the County Address, Executive Poloncarz first introduced the new program:

Erie Net will offer high speed access to all communities in Erie County. It will reach into the corners of our urban areas and suburbs that have no residential fiber internet options. In total some 360 miles of additional fiber would be laid, connecting government buildings, libraries, school, and any interested business.
-Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive

There are many places in Erie County where high-speed internet isn't available and this new service will help those residents have access to the internet. There are also many low-income residents of Erie County who cannot afford to costs of high-speed internet and this service will help close the digital divide.

The program is budgeted to cost around $20 million and the federal COVID-19 relief funds that Erie County is receiving will help reduce the cost of that Erie County has to pay using local taxes. That will come as welcome news to many in Erie County as general tax rates have increased quite a bit lately.

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