Gov. Justice announces over $18 million in grant funding for broadband improvement projects across West VirginiaJune 8, 2023
CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice today announced the preliminary approval of more than $18 million for various broadband infrastructure projects throughout the state. This announcement includes applications received under the programs Line Extension Advancement and Development (LEAD), Major Broadband Project Strategies (MBPS), and Wireless Internet Networks (WIN).
The programs are branches of Gov. Justice’s Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy – a plan to invest over $1 billion in state and federal funds to make broadband connectivity available for the first time to 200,000 West Virginia homes and businesses.
Today’s announcement marks the first preliminary award made for the WIN program which covers state parks and forests by expanding wireless technology. Under the WIN program, funding will allow upgrades to the three towers with 5G and mid-band wireless technology to bring high-speed reliable connectivity to Coopers Rock State Forest, Watoga State Park, and the surrounding areas, significantly increasing public safety and elements of tourism.
“I am committed to ensuring that all West Virginians, and all who visit our Great State have access to the most advanced internet connectivity possible,” Gov. Justice said. “This allocation of funding represents several major steps toward this goal. The projects I am announcing today continue to solidify our commitment to developing broadband infrastructure throughout West Virginia.”
The state’s total investment of $18,675,465 will leverage an additional $19,155,920 from other funding sources, for a total broadband infrastructure investment of $37,831,385 for this round alone.
The LEAD, MBPS, and WIN projects announced today will provide broadband connectivity to more than 8,250 targeted locations in West Virginia. These investments will result in more than 700 miles of new fiber infrastructure. In total, these projects provide funding for the purpose of providing broadband connectivity to 21,126 homes and businesses, many of which currently do not have internet services.
Broadband projects receiving MBPS, LEAD, and WIN program funds listed below:
Hardy Cellular Telephone Company (DBA USCellular):
Coopers Rock State Forest
WIN Program Funds: $679,950
Matching Funds: $226,650
Total Project Cost: $906,600
Total Towers Upgraded: 3
Targeted Addresses: 1,327
State Parks Covered: Coopers Rock State Forest
Project Summary: USCellular will receive $679,950 in WIN funds to upgrade three existing towers outside of the Coopers Rock State Forest boundary. This funding will allow USCellular to upgrade the three towers with 5G and mid-band wireless technology to bring high-speed reliable connectivity to the state forest and 1,327 targeted locations in the surrounding area.
Hardy Cellular Telephone Company (DBA USCellular):
Watoga State Park Planning Grant
WIN Program Funds: $250,000
Project Summary: USCellular will receive $250,000 in planning grant funds to strategically plan for a wireless implementation project to bring high-speed reliable connectivity to Watoga State Park. Through the use of the planning grant, USCellular will be exploring wireless solutions with state and federal officials to address connectivity gaps for areas in and around Watoga State Park. The project will focus on enhancing mobile coverage within Watoga State Park to improve public safety, tourism, through Fixed Wireless Access at key park facilities.
Digital Connections (DBA Prodigi): East Monongalia and East Preston Rural Broadband
LEAD Program Funds: $4,362,723
Matching Funds: $661,500
Total Project Cost: $5,024,223
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 103
Targeted Addresses: 799
Project Summary: Prodigi will receive $4,362,723 in LEAD funds for the expansion of broadband connectivity to 799 targeted addresses in the counties Preston and Monongalia. This project will serve locations in the communities of Albright, Aurora, Bruceton Mills, Masontown, Reedsville, Terra Alta, and rural areas of east Monongalia County. The project will include the installation of approximately 103 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband service in the project area.
Frontier, West Virginia: Ripley (Jackson County) Broadband
MBPS Program Funds: $5,710,010
Matching Funds: $10,594,988
Total Project Cost: $16,304,998
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 249
Targeted Addresses: 1,967
Project Summary: Frontier will receive $5,710,010 in MBPS funds for the expansion of broadband connectivity to 1,967 targeted addresses in the greater Ripley area of Jackson County. This project will serve locations in the communities of Ripley, Kenna, Given, Gandeeville, Gay, Evans, and Kentuck. The project will include the installation of approximately 249 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband service in the project area.
Frontier, West Virginia: Ravenswood (Jackson County) Broadband
MBPS Program Funds: $7,672,782
Matching Funds: $7,672,782
Total Project Cost: $15,345,564
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 381
Targeted Addresses: 4,165
Project Summary: Frontier will receive $7,672,782 in MBPS funds for the expansion of broadband connectivity to 4,165 targeted addresses in the greater Ravenswood area of Jackson County. This project will serve locations in the communities of Ravenswood, Cottageville, Sandyville, Evans, Ripley, Millwood, Mount Alto, Peewee, Somerville Fork, Le Roy, Amigo, Elizabeth, and Lundale. The project will include the installation of approximately 381 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband service in the project area.
Under the West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan, projects selected for award will receive a Preliminary Approval Announcement, which will be published on http://broadband.wv.gov. Internet Service Providers other than the applicant will receive an opportunity to submit data to the West Virginia Department of Economic Development demonstrating that the ISP currently offers broadband service at 25/3 Mbps or greater to addresses within the Proposed Project Funded Service Area. Data submitted must meet all the requirements described in the Process for Soliciting Information Regarding Unserved Areas, which the Department published on July 12, 2021.