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Rockefeller expounds on progress in expanding Internet connectivity opportunities in WV

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On Nov. 4, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said although he's proud of the advances in connectivity around the state, more work needs to be done in the years ahead.

Speaking at the third Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation Broadband Summit, Rockefeller said high-speed Internet connections have created incredible opportunities for public safety, health care, education and economic development in West Virginia.

"At the time of our last broadband summit four years ago, less than 72 percent of West Virginians had access to broadband," he said. "Today, 91 percent have access. This fantastic progress is the result of many people here today, and I am deeply appreciative of their efforts.

"But even though we have made great strides, our work is not done. I believe every West Virginian deserves access to the promise of broadband. So, today, we're here to talk about how we can make this happen."

Rockefeller, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, has jurisdiction over telecommunications policy. He was one of three keynote speakers at the event, which is designed to examine the state of West Virginia's broadband communications infrastructure, the progress made thus far and the work that still remains in making sure every West Virginian can experience the benefits of high-speed Internet service.

In addition to Rockefeller, other speakers at the event included Jessica Rosenworcel, a commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission and Mohammed Gawdat, a vice president at Google. Rosenworcel talked about broadband as both a technology and a platform for opportunity and its importance as essential infrastructure for the 21st century. Gawdat's remarks focused on innovative ideas for the future, including Google's Project Loon, which has experimented with using high-altitude balloons to bring Internet access to remote communities.

"Today, broadband penetration in West Virginia is now above ninety percent," Rosenworcel said. "This has created new opportunities for jobs, education, health care and social and civic engagement. But there is still more to be done."