Emily Rice Published

Improving Broadband Accuracy In The Mountain State

A Google broadband technician installs a fiber-optic network at a home of one of the early Google Fiber customers in Kansas City, Kan., in 2012.

Community members and state officials met with the West Virginia Broadband office and U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin to discuss new broadband coverage maps from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Participants were shown how to check their area’s coverage, and if it is incorrect, how to challenge the maps.

“West Virginia is primed to receive and compete for hundreds of millions of dollars to bring reliable, affordable broadband access to all West Virginians, regardless of where they live. But only if those locations are accurately mapped,” Manchin said. “In recent years I have submitted more than 2,400 speed tests from West Virginians that proved the FCC’s maps were and maybe still are incorrect. We are going to find out.”

Manchin emphasized how important it was to get the maps correct in order to deliver resources to the public, referencing the Rural Electrification Act passed in 1936 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“Today, the fight to bring reliable broadband to communities across the nation is just as important as electrification was back then,” Manchin said. “Without access to the internet, citizens can’t learn, apply for jobs, launch new businesses or become members of society that can give back to their communities.”

These maps are pre-production updates and open to changes, available for challenges in session and any resulting changes to the maps.

“This is a great opportunity I think for people to get clarity as we look at all of the dollars, billions of dollars that are going to be going into our states. We want to make sure in West Virginia, the promises are kept,” Capito said. “The amount of dollars that we get to expand our broadband service is going to be calculated upon how many people are unserved and underserved in our regions.”

Manchin and Capito said the new maps are a result of years of urging the FCC to update their incorrect broadband coverage maps.