CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has announced the preliminary approval of more than $18 million for broadband infrastructure projects in the Mountain State.
The announcement marks the first preliminary award through the Wireless Internet Networks program, which covers state parks and forests by expanding wireless technology, according to Justice.
“I am committed to ensuring that all West Virginians and all who visit our great state 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 am announcing today continue to solidify our commitment to developing broadband infrastructure throughout West Virginia.”
Broadband projects receiving program funds include:
Coopers Rock State Forest
Hardy Cellular Telephone Company (DBA USCellular):
WIN Program Funds: $679,950
Matching Funds: $226,650
Total Project Cost: $906,600
Total Towers Upgraded: 3
Targeted Addresses: 1,327
State Parks Covered: Coopers Rock State Forest
Project Summary: USCellular will receive $679,950 in Wireless Internet Networks funds to upgrade three towers outside of the Coopers Rock State Forest boundary. This funding will allow USCellular to upgrade the three towers with 5G and mid-band wireless technology to bring reliable high-speed connectivity to the state forest and 1,327 targeted locations in the surrounding area.
Watoga State Park Planning Grant
Hardy Cellular Telephone Company (DBA USCellular)
WIN Program Funds: $250,000
Project Summary: USCellular will receive $250,000 in planning grant funds to strategically plan for a wireless implementation project to bring high-speed r connectivity to Watoga State Park. Through the planning grant, USCellular will explore wireless solutions with state and federal officials to address connectivity gaps for areas in and around Watoga State Park. The project will focus on enhancing mobile coverage within Watoga State Park to improve public safety and tourism through fixed wireless access at essential park facilities.
East Monongalia and Preston Rural Broadband
DigitaProdigyctions (DBA Prodigi)
LEAD Program Funds: $4,362,723
Matching Funds: $661,500
Total Project Cost: $5,024,223
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 103
Targeted Addresses: 799
Project Summary: Prodigi will receive $4,362 to expand or expand broadband connectivity in Preston and Monongalia counties. This project will serve locations in the communities of Albright, Aurora, Bruceton Mills, Masontown, Reedsville, Terra Alta, and rural areas of east Monongalia County. The project will include the installation of approximately 103 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband service in the project area.
Ripley (Jackson County) Broadband
MBPS Program Funds: $5,710,010
Matching Funds: $10,594,988
Total Project Cost: $16,304,998
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 249
Targeted Addresses: 1,967
Project Summary: Frontier will receive $5,710,010 in MBPS funds for broadband connectivity to 1,967 targeted addresses in the greater Ripley area of Jackson County. This project will serve locations in Ripley, Kenna, Given, Gandeeville, Gay, Evans, and Kentuck. The project will include the installation of approximately 249 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband service in the project area.
Ravenswood (Jackson County) Broadband
MBPS Program Funds: $7,672,782
Matching Funds: $7,672,782
Total Project Cost: $15,345,564
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 381
Targeted Addresses: 4,165
Project Summary: Frontier will receive $7,672,782 in MBPS funds for broadband connectivity to 4,165 targeted addresses in the greater Ravenswood area of Jackson County. This project will serve locations in the communities of Ravenswood, Cottageville, Sandyville, Evans, Ripley, Millwood, Mount Alto, Peewee, Somerville Fork, Le Roy, Amigo, Elizabeth, and Lundale. The project will include the installation of approximately 381 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband service in the project area.
The state’s total investment of $18,675,465 will leverage an additional 19,155,920 from other funding for a total broadband infrastructure investment of $37,831,385 for this round alone.
This announcement includes applications received under the programs Line Extension Advancement and Development, Major Broadband Project Strategies, and Wireless Internet Networks.
Under the program, funding will allow upgrades to three towers with 5G and mid-band wireless technology to bring reliable, high-speed connectivity to Coopers Rock State Forest, Watoga State Park, and the surrounding areas, significantly increasing public safety and elements of tourism.
The LEAD, MBPS, and WIN projects will provide broadband connectivity to more than 8,250 targeted locations in West Virginia. These investments will result in more than 700 miles of new fiber infrastructure. In total, these projects provide funding for the purpose of providing broadband connectivity to 21,126 homes and businesses, many of which currently do not have internet services.
The programs are branches of Gov. Justice’s Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy, a plan to invest over $1 billion in state and federal funds to make broadband connectivity available for the first time to 200,000 West Virginia homes and businesses.