More than 3,500 rural homes and businesses in Cambria County will receive access to high-speed internet as a result of the latest Federal Communications Commission service auction.

State Rep. Frank Burns, D-East Taylor Township, announced the news Wednesday, noting that the expansion of services is part of a statewide effort that will bring internet to more than 370,000 businesses and residents.

Locally, Windstream Services LLC and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. were awarded licenses through the auction.

The former will receive $2,851,321 at 1,317 locations in the Cambria County throughout a 10-year period, according to the Federal Communications Commission, and the latter is getting $2,387,864 at 2,240 sites for the same timeframe.

Space Exploration was also awarded $5,039,647 for 3,066 locations in Somerset County.

The FCC indicates that most of the bids received are for 100 megabit-per-second download speeds, which is significantly faster than the commission's current benchmark of 25-megabits-per-second.

Moving forward, the state utility commission will work with the 13 successful bidders to secure designations as eligible carriers.

More than $9 billion has been allocated to telecommunications companies in 49 States and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands through the federally-backed Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.

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