broadband

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The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved a committee substitute Friday to Senate Bill 16, a bill that would provide up to one million dollars in tax credits to any company delivering broadband service to certain hard-to-reach rural areas.


At the legislature today, a nearly 400 million dollar budget deficit in looming over our guests tonight, the chairs of the House and Senate Finance Committees.

Sen. Mike Hall and Del. Eric Nelson share their thoughts on how to make up for the shortfall.

Also, it was broadband day at the statehouse as West Virginians young and old focused on how to expand access to the necessary utility.

On this Snowmaggedon edition of The Front Porch:

1. A huge snowball fight breaks out over Right to Work, and whether it is right for West Virginia

2. Does Sen. Chris Walter's bill to expand broadband internet access stand a snowball's chance in hell? Should it?

Wv Broadband Mapping Project

West Virginia has some of the lowest rates of broadband access at some of the slowest speeds in the nation.

Sen. Chris Walters, R-Putnam, wants state government to build a sort of fiber-optic interstate highway and then lease it to private providers. The goal is to bring high internet speeds at cheaper costs.

On The Front Porch podcast, Walters gave ten reasons for building the network:

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, along with other federal representatives, introduced legislation that would reauthorize the Appalachian Regional Commission. The announcement comes on the heels of a report evaluating the progress of the Commission after 50 years.

West Virginia Legislative Photography

The Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee took up a bill Wednesday that its sponsor says will create a government owned broadband interstate in West Virginia.

Senate Bill 459 calls on the state to invest $78 million in expanding broadband access to West Virginians. The money would pay for the installation of 2,600 miles of broadband fiber across West Virginia with an emphasis on expanding access in rural areas.

SalomonCeb / wikimedia Commons

  A West Virginia high-speed Internet project is being investigated by the federal government.

The Charleston Gazette reports that the U.S. Department of Commerce's inspector general has asked state officials to turn over thousands of documents related to a fiber-optic cable network built by Frontier Communications.

The $42 million project was funded with federal stimulus money.

Federal officials have rejected West Virginia's proposal to spend about $2.5 million in funds leftover from a broadband stimulus grant.
 
     State chief technology officer Gale Given tells the Charleston Gazette that the state likely will have to return the unspent funds to the federal government.
 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The legislature takes a closer look at how the state handles the purchasing of technology and broadband infrastructure, Builder Levy returns to Appalachia to document the changes since he first photographed the region in the '60s, Tim O'Brien is not only a Grammy nominee but also a recent inductee of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.

Ashton Marra

The terms “router-gate” and “tower-gate” have been thrown around in committee meetings, in newspaper articles, on social media, to refer to what some are calling major mess ups by the previous and current administrations’ efforts to expand internet access across the state.

The funds those scandals misused came to West Virginia as a grant under the Federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP. Legislative audits show that money was misused in various ways and now some are calling on the state to take a look at whether the expansion of the broadband fiber optic cable network has also been mismanaged.

Politico

West Virginia Internet providers say they're working hard to reach the nine percent of people who lack broadband access, but hurdles remain.

The internet providers spoke Monday at the third Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation Broadband Summit in Morgantown.

The Foundation was formed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller who noted when the last broadband summit was held four years ago, less than 72 percent of West Virginians had access to broadband. Today, 91 percent have access.