Jessica Lilly Published

W.Va. Needs Better Mapping Data to Receive Federal Broadband Dollars

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West Virginia’s broadband needs help, but without some key data, the state could miss out on federal money.

A report released last month says that deficient mapping of broadband information could make some places with poor connectivity ineligible for financial support.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as well as Sen. Joe Manchin are collecting mapping data to help give parts of West Virginia a chance to receive funding.

The (FCC) will distribute $20.4 billion to states from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The funding depends on mapping data that shows “currently unserved” regions. But a recent report by the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) argues that a region without sufficient mapping often needs broadband the most.

Broadband maps of West Virginia are often lacking. The report says that the data gap means the FCC could end up sending funds to wealthy and urban areas that may already have more connectivity than rural counterparts.

Although Phase I of the money has already been allocated, Manchin is encouraging West Virginians to submit speed tests to the FCC in order to improve the data, and eventually expand broadband connectivity.