CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — Governor Jim Justice announced a new billion-dollar initiative to bring broadband to thousands of homes in the Mountain State.
“We’re going to change the trajectory of West Virginia. We want to massively expand the broadband network,” Gov. Justice said.
The project is expected to bring broadband availability to 200,000 homes and businesses in West Virginia. He said the plan will combine funding from federal, state and local governments, along with matching investments from private-sector partners. The strategy is set to speed up the expansion of high-speed internet to rural areas of the state.
The plan will add a $236 million state broadband program to $362 million in Federal Communications Commission funding and $120 million from other state and federal sources, for a total of $718 million in government funding expected to be allocated by fall 2022. The funds will be distributed through programs that draw matching funds from private-sector and local government partners, producing more than $1 billion in total broadband investment.
According to the FCC, at least 30% of the state’s rural homes and businesses don’t have sufficient broadband access. West Virginia has one of the nation’s lowest broadband connectivity rates. Expansion of broadband has been set back by the cost of extending networks into mountainous areas.
“This is surely a landmark day for West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve been talking for years about how to fix the rural broadband problem. Now we’re finally going to do it.
Governor Justice said the state has spent more than two years mapping broadband access around the state, allowing them to pinpoint areas that need funding for broadband the most. It will be the largest investment in broadband in the state’s history.