The Federal Communications Commission’s latest update to the National Broadband Map will mean the opportunity for broadband funding for an additional 80,700 unserved and underserved locations in West Virginia, according to state officials.
The most recent update to the map expands eligibility to 271,000 unserved locations in the Mountains State, an increase of more than 80,700 locations now eligible for broadband funding. This funding will be allocated to states under the Infrastructure and Jobs Investment Act's Broadband Access Equity and Deployment Program.
The allocation formula is based on the number of unserved locations by state and other demographic factors.
The additional locations were identified through several methods developed and utilized by the West Virginia Office of Broadband. Individual West Virginians were provided tools to report their broadband availability and location information to the FCC.
Additionally, the Office of Broadband proactively consulted with broadband carriers and cellular companies to refine location and technology data. Finally, the Office of Broadband conducted onsite field inspections in targeted areas.
“West Virginia should be proud of how it pulled the rope together to update this data,” Gov. Justice said. “This update means access to more Federal dollars for West Virginia to build and deploy broadband to those that need it.”
Kelly Workman, director of the W.Va. Office of Broadband, thanked West Virginians for participating in the effort.
“This is an outstanding result for West Virginia,” Workman said. “When given the opportunity to provide broadband data, West Virginia residents stepped up and assisted our office in this effort.
"Our primary goals are to ensure that all West Virginians are accurately represented on the national broadband map and to obtain all available funding for broadband expansion to unserved areas of West Virginia.”
In late 2021, the state's Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy was released by Governor Jim Justice, representing the largest investment in broadband in the state’s history, with a proposed investment of more than $1 billion.
This plan combines funding from federal, state, and local governments, along with matching investments from private-sector partners, to accelerate the expansion of high-speed internet to underserved areas of the state, making broadband connectivity available for the first time to 200,000 West Virginia homes and businesses.
The National Telecommunications Information Administration is expected to release state funding allocations before July 2023.