According to the Federal Communications Commission, West Virginia ranks last in the nation for people with high-speed Internet.
The Regional Intergovernmental Council, which covers Boone, Clay, Kanawha, and Putnam counties, has teamed with state officials, community stakeholders, and local volunteers to develop a broadband strategic plan for our area.
The first step in the process is to assess the current availability and quality of Internet service.
“We need the citizens to help in the planning process by completing both residential and business surveys describing their Internet use or lack of Internet use,” says Terry Martin, project coordinator.
The brief survey takes about 5 minutes to complete and can be accessed on-line at www.wvregion3.org or hardcopies are available at public libraries, post offices, senior centers and county courthouses, Martin said.
“The surveys will be a critical part in developing the regional strategic plan that will help to prioritize projects for state and federal funding,” Martin said.
Martin says High-speed internet is a necessity in the 21st Century.
“Job growth, better educational resources for people of all ages, and telemedicine are among the many benefits of high-speed Internet service,” he said. “Broadband helps business compete internationally and individuals stay work, play and communicate. However Broadband is not uniformly available, affordable, and reliable across the four-county region of Boone, Clay, Kanawha, and Putnam.” Martin says these gaps can be closed if citizens and business demonstrate demand by participating in the survey.
He said similar efforts are underway around West Virginia and are expected to result in a statewide plan to include state and federal grant applications for improvement and extensions of existing fiber optic lines, or increased use of microwave transmissions, Wi-Fi hotspots, and other technologies where remote locations make economies of scale difficult for laying fiber optic lines.