CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Many West Virginia households still do not have access to the Internet, because the state’s mountains and valleys make it difficult to connect. But one group is determined to make some headway.
The Central Appalachian Regional Network, a non-profit, held its Broadband Summit on Thursday in Charleston.
One of the organizers was Rev. James Patterson of Institute, who said the event was about: “Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there as it related to broadband in the state of West Virginia?”
The speakers focused on programming and policies and ways to make sure every resident of West Virginia has access to the Internet.
“The goal is what Gov. Joe Manchin said when he was governor and that is 100-percent, affordable, high-speed, quality broadband for 100 percent for the citizens of the state of West Virginia,” Patterson said.
CARN, which serves West Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia, has already outlined four policy recommendations including: institutionalize broadband priorities in state government, state funding for broadband investments, regulation by the Public Service Commission and improve take-up rates through digital literacy programs and access to computers for moderate to low-income families.
As for the quality of broadband service in West Virginia, Patterson said there are two predominate views.
“People that have it are saying, ‘It’s great and I couldn’t survive without it and people who don’t have it are saying ‘When will we get it?”
Patterson recently received an email from a McDowell County man working in Mongolia at a mine site in the Gobi Desert. The West Virginia native was worried whether he would have access to the Internet in McDowell County once he returns from Mongolia later this year.
Patterson reasoned if there’s Internet service in the Gobi Desert, there’s no reason why parts of West Virginia are still without.