CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice unveiled a plan to bring broadband to 200,000 more homes and businesses, using a combination of federal, state and local funding, along with matching investments from private sector partners.
The plan would accelerate the expansion of high-speed internet to underserved areas of the state. The governor’s office said it would be the largest investment in broadband in the state’s history.
The governor’s strategy will add a $236 million state broadband program to $362 million in Federal Communications Commission funding and $120 million from other state and federal sources, for a total of $718 million in government funding expected to be allocated by fall 2022.
The funds will be awarded through competitive programs that draw matching funds from private-sector and local government partners, generating more than $1 billion in total broadband investment.
According to FCC data, at least 30% of the state’s rural homes and businesses currently lack adequate broadband access, leaving West Virginia with one of the nation’s lowest broadband connectivity rates. Broadband expansion in West Virginia has been hindered by the cost of extending networks into mountainous rural areas.
The state has spent more than two years comprehensively mapping broadband access around the state, resulting in a detailed inventory of underserved locations that will allow pinpoint funding allocation. The primary programs involved in the initiative are the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, the West Virginia State Broadband Initiative and other funding from the FCC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
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