(01/19/2019)
Bob Weaver

WV in the USA has among the worst broadband services in the USA.

A bill that could bring better internet access to more West Virginians passed unanimously Wednesday out of the House of Delegates Technology and Infrastructure Committee.

The Broadband Expansion Act of 2019, would allow electric companies to study the feasibility of constructing and operating middle-mile broadband internet projects to serve certain unserved and underserved areas, as well as establishing the West Virginia Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act and allowing access to public rights of way for the collection of small wireless facilities.

The bill could open up newer technology that utilizes small wireless transmitters on electric poles.

American Electric Power is on board and already working on a similar project in Virginia. He said West Virginia does not want to be left behind. The feasibility study would be overseen by the Public Service Commission.

The bill allows for small wireless facilities, which are smaller antennas that can be attached to the utility poles. Linville said this opens the state up for 5G capabilities. In a government organization committee, representatives from AT&T committed to spending an additional $50 million in the state of West Virginia for small wireless facilities, and not only that, but $25 million of that was committed to being placed in unincorporated areas.

Linville told the committee. The bill also creates the Wireless Technology Business Property Valuation Act, which creates a special method of evaluating the valuation of wireless technology for tax purposes to reduce costs and encourage investment. This would give developers a greater incentive to construct wireless technologies in the state.

It is likely that the Clay, Clay and Roane Broadband Council will be keeping tabs on the measure to bring broadband to their rural communities.


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