Smethport Web — by Nathan Muller
A system of optical fiber connections is being put in place in the North Central region. Steve Zwerin, senior director of Zito Media Communications, told a meeting of the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission last week that the first high speed connection will go online in McKean County within the next two months to cover Smethport as well as Bradford, Kane and Wilcox.
The new communication system uses the same technology that is already available in major cities for data networking, telephone services, and Internet access. In McKean County, the technology will serve businesses, hospitals, schools, and local government. The fiber system offers more bandwidth to handle today’s applications 20 to 40 times faster than cable or DSL.
Since the optical fiber system also offers greater reliability, users will no longer be at the mercy of weather-caused disruptions of their Internet and telephone services. Because optical links are structured in a loop, data is easily rerouted in the other direction to get to its destination, avoiding problems like failed equipment or a broken link.
For Smethport, the high-speed fiber will help to retain businesses that find themselves at a competitive disadvantage because the services they need are not available. It will also attract more businesses to the area because the optical technology offers more bandwidth at less cost than other technologies currently in use.
“The giant fiber optic trunk coming through Smethport is really the ‘railroad tracks’ of the future,” said Mayor Ross Porter. “This is a huge leap for Smethport’s infrastructure. Just like the communities that were able to secure railroad connections during the 19th century, economic opportunity will follow today’s fiber optic lines.”
Porter noted that it was Smethport’s Terry Palmer who first recognized this opportunity and got the Borough of Smethport involved in this process. Without Palmer’s initiative, the fiber link would have gone through Olean and down to Bradford, leaving Smethport in the dark.
Ray McMahon of McKean County Economic Development worked closely with Steve Zwerin of Zito Media Communications to get the job done. “Congratulations also go to the County Commissioners for putting all the pieces together,” said Porter.