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AEP ready to move to next step of broadband installation in southern W.Va.

CHARLESTON,W.Va. — The difficult task of bringing broadband to the steep and rugged mountains of southern West Virginia is ready to advance to the next step. American Electric Power received approval from the West Virginia Public Service Commission in June to begin the work.

The $60 Million project will add multi-fiber cable to some of the company’s existing broadband in the region and bring internet service to customers living along the electrical service lines. AEP was the logical choice to provide the “middle mile” infrastructure since they already have the network of poles and rights of way through the region.

“We’ve moved into the process where we’re working with our internal telecom group and we’ve turned this over to our project management team with telecommunications at Appco and AEP,” said John Webster who is overseeing the project at AEP.

During a recent teleconference to update the project, Webster said the team will also work closely with Mercer County based Gigabeam which is providing the “last mile” to actually hook up customers’ homes to the system. Webster said the plan is to add those customers as soon as the fiber is on their local utility pole.

“The intent is we will have a coordinated effort and the hope is we’ll be able to actually add customers as portions of the project are constructed,” he said.

The project will include the installation of more than 600 miles of broadband fiber to provide high speed internet service in Logan and Mingo Counties.

AEP has already completed similar work in neighboring Virginia and Kentucky. Webster said they’ve been able to learn a lot about the work in those projects and anticipates it will help improve the efficiency of the installation in the rugged mountains of southern West Virginia.

The PSC approved the project and AEP has 180 days from the time of approval to get the project rolling and will have two years to complete the work.

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