CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal telecommunications specialist says more resources need to be made available to West Virginia and its rural towns in order to expand broadband statewide.

“Being the rural nature, not having the population density — that provides a challenge. It’s not impossible. It just requires more entities to be on the table — more champions and stakeholders coming together to form coalitions to make this happen,” said Scott Woods, senior communications program specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

Representatives with NTIA were in Charleston this month to discuss ways to improve Internet access in the Mountain State. The workshop was part of the NTIA’s BroadbandUSA tour.

Woods said funding is crucial.

“Funding is the number one priority and number one issue no matter where we go. The funds have to be available no matter how many plans you have, no matter how many stakeholders you bring to the table. These things cost money,” he said.

The NTIA meeting served as a conversation starter for stakeholders, Woods said. Discussions included how to expand or attract a broadband network, what grants/loans are available and how to utilize the NTIA services.

“They can utilize our technical assistance program to really figure out and bring strategies that work to bring broadband infrastructure and access to the citizens of West Virginia,” Woods said.

U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) hosted the workshop.

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