The Federal Communications Commission has awarded Tri-Co Connections, the broadband internet subsidiary of Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative, $1.1 million in annual support for 10 years to bring fiber-optic internet service to portions of Potter, Tioga, Bradford and Lycoming counties.

The funding was awarded through the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, which took place in November.

Tri-Co Connections began deploying its fiber-optic system in 2019 as part of a six-year project to make broadband internet service available throughout Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative’s 5,000-square-mile service territory across northcentral Pennsylvania.

Tri-County became the first electric cooperative in Pennsylvania to launch a fiber-to-the-home internet project, which will provide its members access to affordable high-speed internet service.

The fiber build-out began outside of Coudersport in November 2019, and the first Tri-Co Connections customer was connected to the company’s high-speed internet service on April 7, 2020. Since then, Tri-Co Connections has connected more than 700 Potter County homes and businesses to its broadband service.

“Our goal from the beginning has been to bring broadband to our rural communities just like we brought electricity to them back in the 1930s,” said Tri-County President and CEO Craig Eccher. “This achievement would not be possible without the strong support of our elected officials and economic development leaders. We are grateful for the hard work of our team in securing the RDOF funding and look forward to working with the FCC to bring reliable high-speed broadband to rural America.”

Tri-County has secured additional funding for the project from the Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, the FCC Connect America Fund Phase II auction, the Pennsylvania Broadband Initiatives Program, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation.

With headquarters in Mansfield, Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative provides electric service to approximately 17,000 members and more than 20,000 services in Potter, Tioga, Bradford, Lycoming, Clinton, McKean and Cameron counties.

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