LOGAN, W.Va. — Broadband expansion projects in Logan and Mingo counties are now full steam ahead or as recent funding will allow projects to be — full fiber ahead.
$19.7 million is coming from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to expand broadband services in those two counties. The funding will support Logan and Mingo counties’ Fiber to the Premises project, which enables last-mile broadband access and will serve more than 12,000 West Virginian households, a recent announcement stated.
Rocky Adkins, the Executive Director of Logan County Development Authority spoke to MetroNews about the funding and said it will allow rural communities like his to receive direct fiber, which turns into opportunities to succeed.
“It allows fiber to the premises, in other words, fiber connected to your home. That gives you great connectivity having all fiber,” Adkins said.
Adkins said in June 2021 there was a $60 million project approved for American Electric Power that added 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. It included the installation of more than 600 miles of broadband fiber to provide high-speed internet service in Logan and Mingo counties.
Adkins, who has attended numerous broadband councils and meetings with AEP, said now the additional money will mark a significant accomplishment to give every citizen access with fiber.
“It’s just not a portion of any of the counties is getting this but our whole counties, every area of Logan and Mingo counties will be covered,” Adkins said.
Adkins added that broadband has always been an issue in Southern West Virginia but the COVID-19 pandemic exposed what was going on especially for students.
“We had some (students) that had no connectivity and were suffering educational-wise. This will solve that in the future and give every child an opportunity,” he said.
U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), members of the Senate Appropriations Committee helped announce the $19.7 million in funding last week.
Capito said in part, “This is great news for West Virginia, and specifically for people in Mingo and Logan counties who continue to struggle with unreliable internet access.
“I have long advocated for this fiber project through several conversations with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, as well as during conversations last week with GigaBeam Network CEO Michael Clemons and officials from Logan and Mingo counties.”
Manchin said in part, “…This announcement is great news for Logan and Mingo counties and will help expand broadband access to every West Virginian, no matter where they live. Rural states like West Virginia should receive their fair share of funds as we continue to work on broadband deployment, and I will continue working with federal agencies, state officials and communities to bring broadband coverage to every holler in the Mountain State.”
GigaBeam Networks, an broadband internet access provider, has its CEO Michael Clemons say, “GigaBeam Networks is excited and honored to be a partner in this unique project to solve the digital divide in both Logan and Mingo Counties. This grant funding provided by the Department of Commerce’s NTIA will assure availability to the unserved families and businesses of reliable and affordable internet service with superior speed and performance.
“This project wouldn’t be a reality without the efforts of our private partners and the work of our local, state and federal leaders.”