U.S. Program to Boost Rural WV Broadband Access
The Federal Communications Commission is targeting nearly $4.6 million toward boosting access to high-speed Internet to rural West Virginians.
The FCC’s Connect America Fund will help Frontier Communications Corp. connect more than 5,900 locations statewide to broadband service.
Under the deal, Frontier must complete two-thirds of its new broadband installations within two years, and the rest by the third year.
FCC officials say that more than 15,000 additional West Virginians will be able to access high-speed Internet.
West Virginia has the lowest rural broadband access in the nation with about 571,000 residents — nearly 60% of the rural population — lacking access to broadband, the agency said.
While many areas of West Virginia have access to high-speed Internet, the federal agency said that in other places like Hampshire, Hardy, Monroe and Pocahontas counties, more than 95% of their populations lack broadband access.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a news release that access to broadband means access to jobs and economic opportunities, as well as better education and health care.
Connect America is a national public-private effort to connect 19 million rural Americans to high-speed Internet by 2020.
As part of the first phase of the effort, officials say the more than $100 million in early public funding will be matched by tens of millions of dollars in private investment, serving 36 states with un-served rural communities.
Officials say that nearly $46 billion in public investment from the Connect America Fund over the next ten years will spur billions more in private investment.