(08/11/2010)
By Bob Weaver

West Virginia has reportedly received about $126 million in federal economic stimulus funds for expansion and enhancement of broadband Internet.

It's not clear if that money is part of the $1 billion stimilus money not spent by WV government.

Secretary of Commerce Kelley Goes said the plan, "seeks to make sure that critical access facilities in the state have adequate broadband to push out the best services to the citizens."

Goes then quotes a more than fuzzy statistic that claims 23% of WV homes don't have broadband.

Frontier Communications has just made expansive promises about bringing broadband to under-served areas.

Frontier has been unresponsive in defining exactly what improvements are to be made in rural counties like Calhoun.

Robert Atkinson from the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information said at a forum on broadband access, that "West Virginia is still in last place."

Broadband access in the state was the topic of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation's special Round Table last year in Fairmont.

Congressman Alan Mollohan told the audience that both small businesses and large corporations need high-speed Internet for their operations and abilities.

Despite declarations by business, civic and political leaders about bringing rural states into the 21st Century, broadband availability and affordability is lacking in most of rural West Virginia.

Despite claims and initiatives, there have been sparse results.

Rural America is in the lag.

Some have suggested the government should consider such a project that brought electric to rural areas.

Communications Workers of America has ranked the Mountain State 49th in the nation in Internet connection speed, just ahead of Alaska.

According to their report, downloading a file that takes 15 seconds in Rhode Island will take more than two minutes in West Virginia.

Slow Internet speeds will hurt America's ability to compete in global commerce.

The median speed of Internet connection in Japan is nearly 60 times faster than the median speed in the US.

Politicians have worn out phrases in promising 21st Century technology to every citizen.

There are huge rural areas of West Virginia where broadband is not available, but there are the promises.

See related story FRONTIER MAKES SWEEPING BROADBAND PROMISES


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