Gov. Jim Justice today announced he officially signed West Virginia’s Line Extension Advancement and Development (LEAD) program grants for Comcast to begin construction activities to connect more than 2,100 unserved homes and businesses across the state.
Comcast next month will begin to execute the buildout plan for two projects totaling more than $10 million, enabled in part by a $7.5 million state grant to provide more residents in Brooke, Cabell, Hancock, Morgan, Ohio, and Putnam counties access to Comcast’s smart, fast and reliable fiber network.
This expansion will add almost 200 additional route miles of fiber to connect unserved residents to the full suite of Xfinity residential and Comcast Business services, including broadband Internet speeds of up to 1.2 gigabits per second (Gbps) for residences and up to 100 Gbps for businesses.
“This is the next official step in our partnership with Comcast to bring high-speed Internet to some of the most rural communities in West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “My Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy is creating partnerships like this with Comcast to bring the best in Internet service across the state, and I am excited to continue our work in expanding connectivity in West Virginia.”
Funding for the WVBIP’s LEAD program is provided through the West Virginia Legislature’s allocation of $100 million to create the West Virginia Broadband Development Fund. The Fund includes $90 million in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and $10 million in state general revenue funds. Funds are also derived through the ARPA Capital Projects Fund, which includes $136 million for broadband development in West Virginia. The West Virginia Department of Economic Development’s Office of Broadband will administer program funds.
“The WV Department of Economic Development and the Office of Broadband have worked tirelessly with our partners to support this effort. We are so excited to bring high-speed internet to our underserved citizens in our great mountain state,” said Mitch Carmichael, Secretary of the WV Department of Economic Development. “We are thankful for those who have helped make this connection come to life. West Virginians everywhere deserve the best access to high-speed internet as possible, and this is the first step in connecting the rest of the state with reliable internet.”
“We’re proud to partner with the state of West Virginia to extend our advanced broadband service to more than 2,100 unserved residents,” said Terry Ellis, Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Comcast Cable. “These partnerships bolster the tens of millions of dollars Comcast invests in West Virginia every year to connect residents and businesses to our smart, fast, and reliable network. Technology and connectivity are powerful tools to help increase innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth, and we’re excited to partner with the state to help consumers participate fully in the digital economy.”
Construction activities are beginning, and the entire project is expected to be completed by the end of 2023. Comcast is also partnered with the state for the Major Broadband Project Strategies (MBPS) program to connect even more homes and businesses in Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, and Ohio Counties in 2023.
Comcast’s recent community partnerships in West Virginia have totaled $4.4 million in cash and in-kind contributions to 50 local non-profits over the last three years. This investment includes the installation of 10 Lift Zones, which provide free WiFi service to local community centers to promote digital learning. Lift Zones are part of Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive $1 billion commitment to help build a future of unlimited possibilities and the continuation of the company’s long history of giving back to communities where it provides service and where its employees live and work.