West Virginia broadband plan moves forward after delay

The federal government has approved West Virginia’s plan to get their statewide broadband plan back on track. The $126.3 million project has been delayed since early this year with state officials and private sector contractors blaming everything from the Washington D.C. earthquake to the tsunami in Japan as reasons for the lack of progress. The plan came under the scrutiny of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration several months ago as the project failed to meet benchmarks.

West Virginia’s broadband plan has been harshly criticized since it was put forward. The state is working with Frontier Communications to lay fiber and provide broadband access to anchor institutions statewide. Anchor institutions are considered to be public schools, libraries, state offices, and hospitals.

As CivSource reported earlier this year, the state originally proposed providing high-speed broadband access to over 1000 of these anchor institutions. However, that plan was revised after officials became aware that several of the sites listed already had high-speed access. This led state officials to ask the federal government if they could submit a new list of sites without access while simultaneously providing new wireless routers to sites that already had access.

West Virginia has until February 2013 to spend their $126.3 million award or they will lose all unspent funds. The newly approved plan sets updated deployment benchmarks to bring the project back on track to spend the award by the deadline. Frontier has also pledged to assign more workers to the project in order to move it along.