(11/22/2014)
As broadband council disbands, Internet in W.Va. remains poor

By Eric Eyre, Staff writer for the Charleston Gazette

West Virginia’s only state-sponsored group that aims to expand high-speed Internet is set to disband on Dec. 31, but state lawmakers say much work remains to be done to improve broadband service across the state.

At a joint House-Senate committee meeting Monday, legislators said they continue to field numerous complaints from constituents about Internet access and slow download speeds.

“Internet access and speed is close to taking over first place, next to roads, for the number of complaints in the counties I represent,” said Delegate Randy Smith, R-Preston. “It’s a huge problem.”

Next month, the 15-member West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council will shut its doors after a five-year run. Over the years, the governor-appointed council has distributed $5 million for Internet expansion projects in West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle, and at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. State lawmakers have declined to give the council additional funding.

At Monday’s interim meeting, Delegate Jeff Eldridge, D-Lincoln, said his county was “terrible for broadband.” Eldridge asked broadband council Chairman Dan O’Hanlon whether the group had any way to fund additional high-speed Internet projects ...

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