Companies bid for money to expand broadband internet in West Virginia

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — 17-thousand miles of fiber optic cable like this, could soon be coming to West Virginia, bringing high-speed internet access to many people that do not have it. Today the Federal Communications Commission is opening its Rural Broadband Auction, to provide money for companies to connect the under served areas. It’s also an economic opportunity to attract out-of-state companies to move here.

“They’re wanting to move here, They’re wanting to get out of these urban settings and come to a beautiful place like West Virginia where they can conduct business and live a wonderful lifestyle. But they have to have broadband. It is the absolute essential of the 21st century,” said State Senator Mitch Carmichael, (R) Jackson – Senate President.

But it’s not just business. COVID-19 has caused a lot of medical visits to shift from in-person, to online with tele-health. And most of the students in the state are being educated partially or completely online because of the pandemic. But poor, or no broadband has been a real problem for many.

“Teachers have been spending many hours in the evening trying to reach their students. And many times they are not successful doing that because they don’t have the connectivity,” said Fred Albert, WV American Federation of Teachers.

We should know the broadband auction winners next week. Construction could begin early next year, with completion in two to three years.

“While this latest broadband expansion is a federal initiative, don’t be surprised if some state lawmakers introduce similar initiatives here at the Capitol, when the legislature convenes in February,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

Follow Mark Curtis on Facebook and Twitter for the latest local and breaking news.

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