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Linville Leads Internet Expansion Across West Virginia

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Charleston, W.Va.  — One of the primary architects of legislative design and funding is planning to see the fruits of his labor realized quickly.

Cabell County Republican Delegate Daniel Linville is chair of the House Committee on Technology and Infrastructure. As such, many point to Linville’s leadership in efforts to expand broadband technology throughout the state.

Last week at the inaugural West Virginia Broadband Summit, Governor Jim Justice announced the preliminary approval of more than $32 million under two programs of the West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan. 

This announcement included applications received under the programs Line Extension Advancement and Development (LEAD) and Major Broadband Project Strategies (MBPS).

While excited to see the funding awarded, Linville is even more anxious to see the results of spending it.

“I’m glad for the support from Governor Justice,” Linville said. “Now, we all can hardly wait for the expansion to take place.”

Linville continued, “These funds are prioritized to areas where there’s no other option to access broadband. It’s great knowing these areas will soon see new, improved services.”

Justice said LEAD and MBPS projects announced through this application cycle will provide broadband connectivity to more than 6,000 targeted locations with the deployment of approximately 793 miles of new infrastructure. 

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Linville added, “We want to do everything we can to streamline these projects.

Delegate Daniel Linville Discusses A Fiber Upgrade Inside A Frontier Technician Trailer in Cabell County.

While saying some delays are “understandable,” the Cabell delegate explained, “We have some projects that we were awarded 18 months ago and there’s no visible work being done. We want potential customers to be able to look up and say, ‘Look up there. It’s on the way.’”

In addition to grant funds awarded, over $16 million in matching funds will bring the total investment to over $48 million, according to the Governor.

“These communities have needed Internet connectivity for a long time,” Linville said. “Now we’re finally in the right position to address those needs.”

LEAD funds are being awarded to:

  • Armstrong Telecommunications, Inc., for the Wayne-Lincoln-East Lynn and Branchland fiber project;
  • Digital Connections, doing business as Prodigi, for the Preston to Barbour project, and the Tucker County-Parsons, Hambleton, Aurora project;
  • Shenandoah Cable Television, LLC, for the Lewis County, West, Camden, and Horner project;
  • Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks Telephone, Inc, for three separate projects serving locations in Franklin, Milam, Upper Tract, Brandywine, and Sugar Grove, in Pendleton County. 

The Pendleton County Commission, Barbour County Economic Development Authority, and Tucker County Economic Development Authority will contribute additional matching funds toward the projects awarded in their counties.

Projects announced under the MBPS program will utilize public-private partnerships to maximize investment and prioritize community involvement through public-private partnerships, Justice said.

The Berkeley County Council will provide $1 million in matching funds in partnership with Frontier to deploy fiber-to-the-premise infrastructure in Berkeley County.

The Grant County Commission has partnered with two internet service providers (ISPs), Micrologic and Shenandoah Cable, to deploy fiber-to-the-premise infrastructure in rural areas of Grant County. The Grant County Commission will contribute more than $1.7 million to maximize funding for both of these projects.

“I am committed to ensuring that all West Virginians have access to the most advanced internet connectivity possible,” Justice said. “This allocation of funding represents several major steps toward this goal. The projects I announce today solidify our commitment to developing broadband infrastructure throughout West Virginia.”

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Funding for the West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan, MBPS, and LEAD programs, are 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, Office of Broadband, will administer program funds. Under the West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan, projects selected for award will receive a Preliminary Approval Announcement, which will be published on http://broadband.wv.gov.

Internet Service Providers other than the applicant will receive an opportunity to submit data to the West Virginia Department of Economic Development demonstrating that the ISP currently offers broadband service at 25/3 Mbps or greater to addresses within the Proposed Project Funded Service Area. Data submitted must meet all the requirements described in the Process For Soliciting Information Regarding Unserved Areas, which the Department published on July 12, 2021.

Linville concluded, “Turnaround is the key. We’ve identified the need and allocated the funds. Now, let’s get the customers connected.”

Author

  • Ron Gregory

    From Mayor of Glenville at age 26 to Assistant Mayor of Charleston, management of various public entities, and countless political races in West Virginia – Ron Gregory is the most noted political correspondent in the state. View all posts

From Mayor of Glenville at age 26 to Assistant Mayor of Charleston, management of various public entities, and countless political races in West Virginia - Ron Gregory is the most noted political correspondent in the state.

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