West Virginia is still trying to improve broadband access

West Virginia
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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — It’s no secret that West Virginia has among the worst broadband connections and cell service in the nation. The FCC has been working on it, as have other agencies. The Mountain State has also received millions of dollars in federal aid, to expand access to unserved, or under-served areas.

“It’s a measurable thing to see. Is our connectivity bigger, broader, greater, stronger? It is, but like you in the audience, and for me, it’s very, you know, you run out of patience. It’s too slow,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R-West Virginia).

The people in this room are trying to find a solution to the lack of broadband in rural areas, especially for farmers.

“It’s extremely important. It’s the way that farmers are connected to the market, business are connected to their customers and students are connected to a world of knowledge,” said Kris Warner, West Virginia USDA Director.

Communities are being urged to work together in fixing broadband and getting federal grants, just as they did with other utilities in the past.

“We understand the infrastructure. We can tackle this problem, just as we did for water and sewer for so many years. Everybody in communities understands water and sewer. We do that very well,” said Rob Hinton, of the West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council.

Some estimate that 40% of West Virginia is either under-served by broadband or has no service at all.

Several officials privately told WOWK 13 News Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis that the federal government may announce millions of dollars in rural broadband grants within the next week and that West Virginia might get a good chunk of that money.

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