WASHINGTON, June 16, 2010 – In March, West Virginia was awarded $126 million from the Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program. The federal money was granted to create a statewide high-speed broadband network of 45mbps down, for all public schools, libraries, health-care facilities and fire and police departments.
West Virginia’s Commerce Secretary Kelly Goes said “After we get the system working smoothly in that first county, we’re going to wire everything that needs it in every county, statewide.” Governor Joe Manchin said in 2007 that the state would be wired, and thus this process began long before there was even a thought of a federal grant.
The state was the only grantee to be given funds to create a state wide network while most others have local or county networks. “If we can use the broadband stimulus dollars to overbuild fiber optic capacity in the communities, then that extra capacity can be expanded to the community in the future,” Kyle Schafer, chief technical officer for the project said, “That’s the intent. It will be a real selling point for new businesses and new residents who want to work from home.”
$40 million of the stimulus money will be used to build 12 broadband towers to the state’s existing 83 towers; $40 million will pay Verizon Business Services to lay fiber optic cable to 1,064 public facilities and provide access to global networks.
After the towers are built, companies can use the already created infrastructure to sell, Goes said, because the state had this benefit in mind and intentionally planned more broadband than they could possibly use.
“In today’s world, the ability to move data is as necessary as electricity, water and sewer — no question.” Goes said. “We have a very tight deadline to get this substantially done within 24 months,” “We’re on track to do that.”