CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito is continuing her push for broadband connectivity throughout West Virginia and aiding the digital divide.
Capito was joined by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Brendan Carr on Monday for a series of stops in southern West Virginia dealing with broadband and showcasing the new telehealth technology.
The first stop was in Madison at Boone Memorial Hospital that included a demonstration of the telestroke program and how much of a role that connectivity plays in saving lives.
Capito said on Monday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’ that the pilot $100 million telehealth and telestroke program improves quality of life and can be used as lifesaving technology. Carr agreed with Capito on the show.
“With that high-speed broadband connection you can bring a telehealth specialist virtually right into that community to save lives,” he said.
“So whether it is telehealth, education for our kids or economic opportunity, broadband is critical today and that is why we are here.”
While the telehealth and broadband connect inside the hospital are being used strongly, Carr learned about the broadband issues that some West Virginians face quickly in his time around Boone County.
“Just the drive this morning down to the hospital, four bars, three bars, no bars and back up,” he said. “There’s really no substitute for getting out of D.C. and see the challenges that remain.”
Carr thanked Capito for the support in Congress of the FCC program called the Connect America Fund, which is a $10 billion to subsidize the cost of building out broadband where the private sector business case is not there.
Carr said that fund is one of a couple of ways that the FCC is working to improve connections.
“The country internet speeds are up 40-percent, we have more fiber built out last year than ever before,” he said.
“We have the right policies in place right now, it’s just keeping the hammer down until every single community feels the benefits of that progress.”
Capito agreed with the sentiment that progress is being made with the broadband connection not only in West Virginia but around the United States.
However, she did see one issue.
“The statistics show that we have improved our connectivity and that more people have access,” Capito said. “The problem is that some of the mapping is not accurate. In other words, we are shown as having a service when we really don’t have it.
“We want to make sure these dollars go to where its intended which are those folks who either don’t have service or either poor service.
Carr said the FCC has heard the complaints loud and clear. He said he is working with Capito on improvement as she introduced the Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2019.
Following the stop in Boone County, the pair traveled to Charleston to tour the Charleston Area Medical Center’s Ophthalmology Group, and observe a demonstration of the remote digital retina screening, and receive a telestroke consultation from CAMC’s telestroke team.
.@SenCapito and @BrendanCarrFCC join @HoppyKercheval to discuss their travels across West Virginia talking about expanding telehealth and rural broadband. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIAoe1 pic.twitter.com/W48874eBOR
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) July 1, 2019