CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — It’s no secret that West Virginia has among the worst broadband, internet and cell service in the nation, but that’s about to change in a big way.
We’ve all been there, in the middle of an important personal or business call, and the signal just goes dead, and the call is dropped.
In granting West Virginia $1.2 billion dollars for broadband improvements, the Federal Communications Commission recently found more than 270,000 “dead” spots in West Virginia where there is no service.
Officials say that is now enough money to connect every home, school and business in the Mountain State that wants it.
At a news conference in the governor’s office, officials pointed out that good broadband service is also critical for attracting new companies to West Virginia.
“You cannot possibly expect people that would really, genuinely move companies, bring folks to West Virginia if we’re still living in the dark ages,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
“Today, the internet is a necessity. It’s not a luxury, right? It’s essential for access to jobs, access to education, access to health care,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of the National Telecommunications & Information Office.
“We are not going to attract young people into our state if we are not fully connected. It’s not going to happen. And so, this is part of that whole movement to grow our state,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R) West Virginia.
“There would not be an opportunity to provide, to open up the doors to those types of companies without ubiquitous broadband service throughout West Virginia,” said Mitch Carmichael, WV Economic Development Secretary.
West Virginia must deliver its initial broadband plan to the federal government in a month.
If approved, the first 20% of the broadband expansion money should arrive in six months and work can get underway. It’s hoped every spot in the state will be connected within six years.
West Virginia also has other broadband funding. Already in 2023, the state has connected 40,000 new broadband customers and upgraded service to another 120,000 people.