The Legislature is now considering a number of bills to expand and improve broadband service in the Mountain State. One idea is to ramp up the speed of current service to a level known as 5-G. But the biggest prioritity is to find areas that have little or no service, and get them online. The bipartisan effort is aimed at improving education and business expansion.
“Well it’s absolutely critical. It’s critical to our businesses. We’ve got to connect West Virginia to the rest of the world, and the rest of the world to West Virginia. So there’s a lot of folks that will not locate a business somewhere, where they cannot access the internet,” said Del. Daniel Linville, (R) Cabell.
“All the kids have these Chrome Books and they need to be able to have accessability, to use those items once they’re home, to do their schoolwork,” said Del. Danielle Walker, (D) Monongalia.
In urban areas, cell and internet service is fairly reliable, but many say could faster. The most signifiant problems are in rural areas, like Southern West Virginia, where there are efforts to expand the ecomony beyond coal.
“I think it’s one of the biggest impediments to economic development in Southern West Virginia. Cell service – only in a very few places. Once you get south of Beckley you get it in the Pineville area. You have some in the Welch area – not a lot,” said Del. Ed Evans, (D) McDowell.
Right now the House is trying to iron some differences in tax laws, that could help enhance broadband availability.
Once the bill to expand cell and broadband service in West Virginia passes the House, it will come to the Senate for debate. But it’s worth noting that there is also a lot of money being allocated by Congress, to improve broadband in underserved states such as West Virginia.