West Virginia’s struggling state broadband project is moving forward at least in part, Frontier Communications which is handling most of the expansion plan told state officials yesterday that their work is on track to meet deployment deadlines. The company is responsible for expanding broadband through the state’s public school network.
Last year, West Virginia faced hard scrutiny from federal officials over its broadband plan. The state applied for federal broadband funding to expand a statewide network through anchor institutions such as hospitals and schools but had to revise the plan after learning that many of the institutions originally included in the application already had broadband. Local officials then submitted a revised plan to bring sites without broadband online and get the project back on track which was approved. Since then, critics of the project have been poised waiting for any missteps.
When Frontier’s work is complete over 400 schools will have broadband although state officials have raised concerns about some of the equipment including routers which cost north of $20,000 each.
Frontier is only responsible for laying fiber lines but questions about costs raised during the meeting show that some state officials remain unconvinced that the project is going well. West Virginia was given $126 million in federal stimulus dollars to build the network.