W.Va. Office of Broadband publishes initial Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment program proposal for public comment

CHARLESTON, W.VA — The West Virginia Department of Economic Development, Office of Broadband, (WVDED), published the BEAD Initial Proposal Volume 1 for review and comment.  Comments will be accepted for 30 days, beginning Wednesday, August 30 through Monday, September 30, 2023. The document is available here.

“West Virginia is taking another step forward in the process to secure a historic investment in broadband infrastructure,” said Kelly Workman, Director of the WV Office of Broadband. “Under the leadership of Governor Justice, the Office of Broadband is moving as quickly as possible to ensure that our residents and businesses have the broadband connectivity they need. Public involvement in our broadband planning process is very important, so we invite all West Virginians to review the Initial Proposal and provide feedback.”

The WVDED is tasked with deploying local and federal broadband funds, including $1.2 billion in federal Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) funding for broadband development in West Virginia. BEAD is administered by the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA). 

The BEAD application requires several steps: a Five-Year Action Plan, this Initial Proposal Volume I, and the forthcoming Initial Proposal Volume II, followed by a Final Proposal. Additionally, the BEAD Program requires states to coordinate efforts with Digital Equity planning, capacity building, and workforce development. West Virginia’s Initial Proposal Volume I builds upon the goals, objectives, and strategies outlined in West Virginia’s BEAD Five-Year Action Plan and meets four of the 21 BEAD program requirements:

  1. Existing broadband funding available to WVDED;
  2. Unserved and underserved locations eligible for BEAD funding;
  3. Definitions and locations of Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs) in West Virginia; and
  4. Plans for an evidence-based, transparent, fair, and expeditious BEAD challenge process, as well as the process to de-duplicate funding in West Virginia.

Public Comment Sought
WVDED seeks public comment to ensure that this document reflects the needs of West Virginians. Individuals may provide:

  1. Comments on the document in general,
  2. Comments about the location or categories of Community Anchor Institutions.

To provide comments on the document: All members of the public are encouraged to provide feedback on the contents of the Initial Proposal Volume 1 via:

  • Online Comment Form 
  • Printable Comment Form, which can be printed here and mailed to the WVDED at 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Building 3, Room 600, Charleston, West Virginia 25305. Comments must be postmarked by September 30, 2023. 
  • Copies of the Initial Proposal Volume 1 will be available at each of the State’s 11 Regional Planning and Development Councils.

To provide comments on location or categories of Community Anchor Institution locations: Community Anchor Institutions are places that facilitate greater use of broadband service by vulnerable populations. Some of the types of Community Anchor Institutions detailed in the Initial Proposal include schools, libraries, health centers, courthouses, job training facilities, and institutions of higher education. WVDED has posted a CAI map, found here that contains the locations of all the Community Anchor Institutions listed in the Initial Proposal. WVDED seeks feedback on both the locations of Community Anchor Institutions, as defined in the document, and any recommendations for additional categories of such entities that members of the public wish to include. Feedback on both topics can be provided here.

The BEAD program will support West Virginia’s universal broadband access vision to, “Achieve universal broadband coverage and digital equity throughout the State through aggressive broadband deployment goals and a commitment to closing the digital divide through robust equity and inclusion initiatives.”

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