CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai says the FCC will implement the Broadband DATA Act, which would require the commission to update its broadband coverage maps to accurately represent areas that are underserved before the $9 billion 5G Fund for Rural America is distributed.
According to U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, (D-WV), implementing the updates will ensure areas without coverage in the Mountain State are eligible for the funding. The senator has pushed for the updates for several years.
“After years of ringing the alarm about our lack of broadband coverage and the errors in the FCC’s broadband coverage maps, the FCC has finally agreed to update the maps before distributing the $9 billion 5G Fund for Rural America,” Manchin said. “West Virginia will only get one bite at this apple and without these mapping updates, many areas without coverage would not have been eligible for any of this funding. At least now we can compete.”
Manchin says a major factor in the decision was the number of West Virginians who conducted and sent his office a speed test to show data for broadband in their area.
“This would not have happened without the nearly 2,000 West Virginians who conducted their own speed tests and sent them to my office. I first and foremost want to thank every West Virginian who took the time to conduct and send a speed test,” Manchin said. “I also want to thank the FCC for recognizing the unjust inaccuracies of these maps and making this necessary correction. Because of these efforts, rural communities across our state will at least have a fair opportunity to get covered.”
In November 2019, Pai came to Charleston and met with Manchin and U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito to look at issues with broadband in West Virginia.
The senators said at the time having wide internet access is critical for education and health care, a point that has become even more relevant in the past year with remote learning in schools and an increase in telehealth due to the COVID-19 pandemic.