West Virginia has one of the slowest broadband speeds in the US and ranks near the bottom in broadband access.|
Communications Workers of America Policy Director Debbie Goldman says the average speed for broadband service in a West Virginia home is between 2.5 to 3.0 megabits per second or mbps.
The national average is 4 mbps.
If those speeds are considered slow, consider the average speeds in rural counties like Calhoun. The Hur Herald's average broadband speed is under 1.0 megabits.
"In West Virginia, 45 percent of those who took our speed test did not meet the FCC's minimum broadband speed standard,” Goldman said.
Government regulators have allowed a wide swathe in defining broadband service.
Goldman says that really leaves West Virginia lagging behind not only across the nation but across the globe.
Frontier Communications says it plans to make high-speed Internet available to 85 percent of its customers in West Virginia by the end of 2011, two and a half years sooner than expected.
Frontier executives said the company will spend $48 million through the end of next year as part of an "aggressive" broadband expansion.
West Virginia now ranks 47th in the nation for the percentage of homes with broadband availability.
Reaching minimal standards regarding speed has not been discussed, at least publicly.
"In South Korea and Japan, pretty much everybody has fiber to the home,” Goldman said. “And that really has unlimited capacity."
The average mbps in those countries is ten times faster than the U.S.
Such speeds make businesses, education and communication much more accessible and productive.
Goldman says West Virginia could be leading the nation in broadband speed in a couple of years.
There is a $126-million grant from the the National Telecommunications and Information Administration that will be used to link 1,000 rural schools, health facilities, first responders and county offices throughout the state to a central broadband system.
Calhoun and Roane County will be getting new towers and equipment for the wireless broadband.
The West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council says when the ambitious project is complete in 2013, then commercial providers can go in and connect to those links to reach individual homes and businesses.
If you'd like to find out about Internet speed of your own computer, go to Speedmatters.org
The Herald would like to hear from Calhoun and regional county residents regarding their speed: firstname.lastname@example.org