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Rural broadband discussion to feature PTA President Steven J. Samara, state lawmakers, and state and national Grange officials

Rural broadband discussion to feature PTA President Steven J. Samara, state lawmakers, and state and national Grange officials

Steven J. Samara, President of the Pennsylvania Telephone Association (PTA), will discuss the vital role the rural phone carriers, or RLECs, play in broadband deployment with state lawmakers and state and national Grange officials at the annual Farm Show.

The panel discussion, sponsored by the Pennsylvania State Grange, will run from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 10, 2019 at the Monongahela Room, PA Farm Show South Building.

“The RLECs are the carriers of last resort for rural homes and businesses, and in many instances, the only option for broadband access,” Samara said. “They have to be part of any discussion about the future of rural broadband access in the commonwealth.”

In announcing the panel, Wayne Campbell, President of the PA State Grange, said that rural broadband was the group’s top legislative priority for the upcoming two-year session.

“To the PA State Grange, broadband access is to this century what rural electrification was to the last,” Campbell said in a statement.

Other speakers include: Honorable Curt Coccodrilli, PA State Director, USDA Rural Development; Honorable Sherri Collins, Deputy Secretary, PA Department of Community & Economic Development; Betsy Huber, President, National Grange; Honorable Kristin Phillips-Hill, PA State Senate.

Last year, Phillips-Hill, then a member of the House, formed the bipartisan Broadband Caucus with State Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Greene). They co-sponsored a package of rural broadband bills, including one that would expand the availability of high-speed broadband internet service in underserved and unserved areas. Phillips-Hill also serves on the Federal Communications Commission’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee.

The panel discussion will be streamed live over the internet. Interested viewers can connect through Phillips-Hills’ Senate website.