Change to state’s Broadband Infrastructure Loan Insurance program will enable West Virginia-based service providers to bring high-speed internet to underserved areas
CHARLESTON – Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson), Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso (D-Marion), Speaker of the House of Delegates Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay), and House Minority Leader Tim Miley (D-Harrison), today commended Governor Jim Justice for his announcement of an Executive Order that will usher in a major expansion of broadband internet service to rural and underserved areas of West Virginia.
Legislative leadership asked the Governor to eliminate the current regulatory caps on the West Virginia Broadband Infrastructure Loan Insurance program and to eliminate the regulatory caps per provider. The loan program is facilitated through the Board of Treasury Investments. In 2017, the amount of funds that BTI could make available to broadband providers was capped at $50 million, with no more than $10 million for any single enterprise.
Through the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program, West Virginia is eligible for as much as $760 million, which would help make high-speed broadband available to more than 120,000 West Virginia households.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has again highlighted the desperate need for world-class broadband service in West Virginia,” Senate President Carmichael said. “Telehealth, distance learning, and work from home initiatives require superior internet connectivity. West Virginia has an amazing opportunity to capitalize on this federal Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, and I thank Governor Justice for doing his part to make it possible for broadband providers to utilize this incredible opportunity.”
“Our children and students deserve the opportunity to have quality education that is accessible to them, and the only way to do that is through broadband,” Senate Minority Leader Prezioso said.
“West Virginia has a digital divide, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent problem,” Speaker Hanshaw said. “Today’s action by the Governor will help open the door for West Virginia businesses to provide a desperately needed service to West Virginians, and enable our state to lay the technology infrastructure we need to attract and retain the kinds of high-paying, next generation jobs that bring young people and families to our state.”
“The need to expand access to high speed broadband in West Virginia is no longer optional, or a luxury that only a few can afford,” House Minority Leader Miley said. “It’s imperative that if West Virginia wants to be viewed as an appealing place for families to live and work, we must take whatever steps necessary to ensure that high-speed internet is accessible to every home and business in the state. Today’s Executive Order signed by the Governor will go a long way in making that happen.”
More information about the West Virginia Broadband Infrastructure Loan Insurance program can be found Here.