$17 million in broadband funding awarded

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice today announced the preliminary approval of over $17.4 million in Line Extension Advancement and Development (LEAD) program funds for various broadband infrastructure projects throughout the state.

This marks the first round of grants awarded as part of Gov. Justice’s Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy, also known as the West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan (WVBIP).

Grant recipients were selected among applicants in the LEAD program’s first application round, which closed on Nov. 30, 2021.

This allocation of state funding, in the amount of $17,401,764, will leverage an additional $5,140,146 in additional funds, for a total broadband infrastructure investment of $22,541,910.

The investment will result in nearly 400 miles of new fiber infrastructure and will provide broadband connectivity to more than 5,000 homes and businesses in West Virginia.

“We’re going to bring some of the most rural communities in West Virginia into this century by providing access to high-speed internet connectivity for the very first time,” Gov. Justice said. “All West Virginians deserve the convenience that broadband provides. Our students deserve to be able to do their homework, our seniors deserve access to telehealth, and our businesses deserve to be able to reach their customers and suppliers.

“If we want to truly compete on the world stage, we have to expand access to reliable broadband to more and more of our people. That’s exactly what my Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy is doing,” Gov. Justice continued. “I couldn’t be prouder to see this plan becoming a reality, but today’s announcement is only the beginning. We’re going to continue investing in broadband initiatives all across our state as we work to change the technological landscape of West Virginia forever.”

The LEAD program includes two additional application rounds, one of which closed on Dec. 30, 2021, while the other will close on Jan. 30, 2022. Additional approvals will be issued in the coming weeks.

Funding for the WVBIP’s LEAD program is provided through the West Virginia Legislature’s allocation of $100 million to create the West Virginia Broadband Development Fund. The Fund includes $90 million in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and $10 million in state general revenue funds. Funds are also derived through the ARPA Capital Projects Fund, which includes $136 million for broadband development in West Virginia. The West Virginia Department of Economic Development’s Office of Broadband will administer program funds.

Under the WVBIP, projects selected for award will receive a Preliminary Approval Announcement, which will be published on 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.

Broadband projects receiving LEAD program funds listed below:

Citynet-Green Valley Line Extension: $1,191,534
Matching Funds: $188,500
Total Project Cost: $1,380,034
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 26
Targeted Addresses: 265
Project summary: WVBIP LEAD funds will be awarded to Citynet to complete the Green Valley Line Extension project. The project will include the expansion of broadband connectivity to 265 targeted addresses in Harrison County. The project will include the installation of approximately 26 miles of fiber infrastructure to serve locations in the project area.

Comcast KEY: Brooke, Hancock, Ohio: $4,738,185
Matching Funds: $2,101,218
Total Project Cost: $6,839,403
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 120
Targeted Addresses: 1,447
Project summary: WVBIP LEAD funds will be awarded to Comcast for the expansion of broadband service to 1,447 targeted addresses in Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio counties. The project will include the installation of approximately 120 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband connectivity in the project areas.

Comcast BLT: Cabell, Morgan, Putnam: $2,855,246
Matching Funds: $1,111,628
Total Project Cost: $3,966,874
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 64.06
Targeted Addresses: 716
Project summary: WVBIP LEAD funds will be awarded to Comcast for the expansion of broadband service to 716 targeted addresses in Morgan, Putnam, Kanawha and Cabell counties. The project will include the installation of approximately 58.77 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband connectivity in the project areas. This multi-county project will include network line extensions in Great Cacapon, Berkeley Springs, Nitro, Lesage, Liberty, Ona and other unserved locations. This project will also include a small number of locations in Berkeley and Kanawha counties.

Digital Connections-Prodigi: West Preston Network Extensions: $4,592,645
Matching Funds: $810,500
Total Project Cost: $5,463,145
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 92.7
Targeted Addresses: 1,203
Project summary: WVBIP LEAD funds will be awarded to Digital Connections-Prodigi for the expansion of broadband connectivity to 1,203 targeted addresses in western Preston County. This project will serve areas in the communities of Albright, Kingwood and Reedsville. The project will include the installation of approximately 92.7 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband service in the project area.

Digital Connections-Prodigi: Northcentral Preston Network Extensions: $3,840,913
Matching Funds: $803,500
Total Project Cost: $4,644,413
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 60
Targeted Addresses: 1,455
Project summary: WVBIP LEAD funds will be awarded to Digital Connections-Prodigi for the expansion of broadband service to 1,455 targeted addresses in northcentral Preston County. This project will serve areas in the communities of Arthurdale, Reedsville, Bretz, and Masontown. The project will include the installation of approximately 60 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband connectivity in the project area.

HardyNet: Eastern Hardy Broadband Extensions: $183,241
Matching Funds: $64,800
Total Project Cost: $248,041
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 10
Targeted Addresses: 58
Project summary: WVBIP LEAD funds will be awarded to HardyNet for the Eastern Hardy Line Extensions project. This project will include the expansion of broadband connectivity to 58 targeted addresses in rural Hardy County. The project will include the installation of approximately 10 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband service in the project area.

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