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Legislature Reviews Broadband Investment Plan

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creativecommons.org
The West Virginia Legislature reviewed plans for broadband expansion during the interim meetings.

The West Virginia Legislature’s Joint Committee on Technology heard a review of future broadband development on Tuesday.

The review comes after the legislature created a $100 million dollar investment fund for broadband last October as part of Gov. Jim Justice’s West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan (WVBIP).

West Virginia Community Advancement and Development’s Director of the Office of Broadband, Kelly Workman, says they are making plans to connect 300,000 new addresses to high speed Internet.

“When we talk about our 300,000 number, we're talking about specific locations,” Workman said. “So if you do a basic multiplier of 2.4 or 2.2 residents per home, that number is greatly increased when we're talking about individuals who are unserved in West Virginia.”

Ten line extension projects across regions like the Northern Panhandle, north-central West Virginia, and Kanawha County have been approved as of the interim meeting.

These current projects, funded by grants awarded through the Line Extension Advancement and Development program, are expected to create roughly 450 miles worth of fiber infrastructure and provide high speed internet to 4,650 homes and businesses across the state.

Twenty-nine applications for either technical assistance or implementation have also been submitted by local governments throughout West Virginia through the state’s GigReady program, which is part of the WVBIP and was funded federally through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Similarly, 72 applications have been submitted for the Major Broadband Project Strategies program, which focuses on projects on a larger scale that span multiple counties.

As of last week, nearly 70,000 West Virginians have applied to the federal Affordable Connectivity Program, which helps those with low income pay for Internet service.

Eastern Panhandle Reporter, ssnyder@wvpublic.org, 304-433-4288

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