Berks County Broadband Assessment Plan
Lit Communities Broadband was hired to perform a feasibility study and other necessary evaluations to enable the County to leverage state and federal funds that are dedicated to improving access to broadband. The firm completed a Berks County Broadband Assessment Plan in October 2022.
Key Findings of the Report:
- There are clear gaps in broadband infrastructure that have a direct impact on residents, businesses and service organizations.
- There is a critical need to improve digital literacy among residents. Digital literacy is the ability of people to navigate, evaluate and communicate information online.
- There are opportunities to improve outreach to those who are unserved or underserved by working with willing partners.
- There is a general satisfaction with speed and reliability of current Internet services, but a concern about the lack of competition for Internet providers in some communities.
Recommendations from the Berks County Broadband Task Force:
The Commissioners will consider approval of the plan and funding request at an upcoming Board of Commissioners' meeting.
- Allocate $5.7 million toward infrastructure projects with the intent of leveraging this investment into more thorough grants, partnerships and other funding.
- Actively pursue grant or private funding to address broadband connectivity gaps.
- Allocate $600,000 to fund two pilot digital literacy programs.
- Initiative dialog with neighboring counties to identify opportunities for collaboration.
- Continue dialogue with new and incumbent carriers to identify opportunities for collaboration to address the unserved and underserved.
- Collaborate with municipalities, authorities and other stakeholders to look at opportunities for infrastructure build-out, including right of way and "dig once" opportunities.
Broadband Initiative Partners
The support and resources from several community partners have allowed this effort to expand beyond simply providing access to broadband, but to also address gaps in digital literacy and improve digital equity. The following partners have joined to support this initiative:
United Way of Berks County
Berks County Community Foundation
Berks County Intermediate Unit
The City of Reading
Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center
Reading Public Library
Reading School District
UPMC For You Health Plan