West Virginia gets rural broadband award


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is giving West Virginia an award to expand rural broadband in the state. The award is notable as broadband expansion projects in West Virginia have come under multiple rounds of federal and state scrutiny.

The $24 million FCC award comes with the backing of US Senators Machin and Rockefeller, who say that the project will provide high-speed broadband access to some 40,000 homes in rural West Virginia. The allocation follows a call from Rockefeller, and several of his colleagues, who urged the FCC in March 2013 to continue releasing resources from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Connect America Fund so as to prevent a break in the construction of broadband infrastructure in areas that presently lack high-speed Internet service. The Connect America Fund was launched in 2012 to provide access to broadband service to tens of millions of Americans who have been without broadband service.

As CivSource has reported, broadband work in West Virginia has run into some level of mismanagement, including cost overruns, and deployment delays. BTOP related projects recieved federal scrutiny, and reports surfaced earlier this year that an internal audit done in the state legislature had been held back by the Governor ahead of a broadband summit. The FCC award falls under a separate program and is focused solely on rural households and businesses.

“The FCC is an important partner in the effort to bring broadband infrastructure and high-speed Internet to our rural communities. This funding award shows that the agency not only heard our concerns, but they understand that advancing next-generation Internet technology in rural areas, including those in West Virginia, cannot be done without them,” said Senator Rockefeller.