CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) — West Virginia Governor Jim Justice was joined by other state leaders on Friday to announce a strategy he says will bring high-speed internet to 200,000 more homes and businesses in West Virginia.
The plan will combine funding from federal, state and local governments with matching investment from private sector partners to accelerate broadband expansion into underserved areas.
“Today I’m announcing a billion dollar broadband strategy. You know it’s nothing we’ve ever done before. We now have a chance and a chance to really, really fix this,” Gov. Justice Friday said. “We’re going to change the trajectory of West Virginia in a bigger and better way.”
The governor’s strategy adds a $236 million broadband program to $362 million in funding from the Federal Communications Commission and $120 million from other state and federal sources, for a total of $718 million in government funding expected in the will be allocated in the fall of 2022.
The funds will be allocated through competitive programs that attract matching funds from private sector partners and local governments, bringing in a total broadband investment of more than $1 billion.
According to FCC data, at least 30% of rural homes and businesses in the state currently lack broadband access, giving West Virginia one of the lowest broadband connectivity rates in the country.
“West Virginia students deserve to be able to do their homework,” said Governor Justice. “Our seniors deserve access to telecare. Our companies deserve to be able to reach their customers and suppliers. And all of our citizens deserve to be able to interact with their government, stay informed as citizens, and do all the hundreds of things that need fast internet. We will make that possible from today.”
Thanks to what Gov. Justice called a “bold move,” West Virginia now has the highest percentage of RDOF funding per capita in the country at $202 per person, for a total of $362 million.
“West Virginia now gets the most. I like the most or first,” said Gov. justice. “Most FCC dollars per capita of any state in America for broadband.”
The second major component of the strategy will be administered by the State Office of Broadband and Broadband Council, using the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and funding from the state budget. ARPA’s Capital Projects Fund includes $136 million for West Virginia broadband.
On Friday, Governor Justice added two bills to the special session in West Virginia that would create an additional $90 million credit in ARPA State Fiscal Recovery funds for broadband projects, along with a $10 million credit to state general revenue funds for wireless projects. broadband projects. These resources will provide combined funding of $236 million for the state’s own competitive broadband projects initiative.
This is a story in development.
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