• Rachel Lingenfelter

DIY Wifi: Making a Connection

We all know that the internet is vital to the way most of us live our daily lives. Whether that is by checking the stock market in the morning, emailing a recipe to a loved one or checking up on old friends on Facebook. The internet is intertwined with our lives whether we like it or not and it is constantly growing to faster speeds. But, and this may be shocking to some, certain areas still don’t have access to high-speed internet as we do. That sounds almost untrue, doesn’t it? Well, thanks to some neighbors who recognized that problem, one community now has the internet and it’s all homemade.

In Mills Creek, Pennsylvania, Henry McCreary and his friends realized that this area wasn’t being visited or moved to because of the lack of internet connection. “If people are going to move in this area and a lot of people like to work from home now, or you want to locate your business in this area, without viable internet service, a lot of people are impaired from being able to do such things,” says McCreary. Studies showed that, in the year 2017, roughly 5.2% of Americans were working from their homes. It’s easily imagined that that number has grown since then. It’s also apparent that the internet isn’t exactly the cheapest right now. So, the Rural Broadband Cooperative, the group’s name, made the connection themselves.

On top of a 120-foot mountain, there was a radio tower that had seen better days. There, the group put together the radio tower, solar panels, and an equipment room underneath. With this technology, they put together what is known as a ‘fixed wireless broadband connection.’ Having the tower on top of the mountain allowed their connection to be stronger and allowed more people to connect. But why did they have to create their own?

Ken Diven, a retired army veteran, had spent years in a battle with the local government and had voiced his concern for the lack of internet connection in the area, but state and federal representatives gave little to no attention to the issue. Why was this so important anyway?

“It’s a necessity. We need it for our children. Some of our children out in the country can’t use their computers because there’s no internet service. Or it’s so slow that they can’t do their homework,” he said. “So it’s more than just, ‘Ken Diven wanting internet service now.’ It’s grown into something that I believe in, something that I know can be done.” With estimates of over 600,000 Pennsylvanians still not having internet service, Diven, McCreary and the group hope to change how people view and appreciate their internet connection.

“This is a grassroots operation. The team decided that we’re going to do it ourselves and build and operate our own network without the help of outside parties.” This determination and hard work paid off. At the end of December of 2019, the group announced that they were fully operational and that the Rural Broadband Cooperative was working round the clock to bring Wifi to everyone in rural Huntingdon County. The group charges $75 a month for internet service.

Read more about this story by going to... https://www.witf.org/2020/03/03/this-rag-tag-group-of-diyers-has-an-answer-for-rural-pa-s-internet-problem/?fbclid=IwAR3sU9SE9RNwTMj9CriugLCVxXiztIU1E1AkEi7L2zA5EIs8bJ_j9JqTglc.

(Source: https://www.witf.org/2020/03/03/this-rag-tag-group-of-diyers-has-an-answer-for-rural-pa-s-internet-problem/?fbclid=IwAR3sU9SE9RNwTMj9CriugLCVxXiztIU1E1AkEi7L2zA5EIs8bJ_j9JqTglc)

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