Originally published: August 4, 2009
Last updated: August 4, 2009 - 9:11pm
Dave Armentrout, chief operating officer of telecommunications provider FiberNet, is concerned that West Virginia may miss out on the $7.2 billion in federal stimulus money aimed at deploying broadband in rural and remote areas across the nation. The way "remote area" has been defined by the federal agencies overseeing the program has eliminated most of West Virginia, "which we all know is ridiculous because West Virginia ranks in the top 47 or 48 states un-served by broadband," Armentrout said. Indeed, a map released last week by Connect West Virginia, a subsidiary of Connected Nation, shows that only two areas in the state -- one centered in Webster, Pocahontas and Randolph counties and another centered in McDowell County -- qualify as "remote areas" under the definitions released by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service. States will not receive money based on a set formula. Rather, the money each state receives will depend on the applications for projects that are approved. Applications will be measured, in part, on what percent of the proposed broadband service area is rural and what percent is remote. Armentrout said the rules have been written so a state like Texas has lots of "remote areas," while West Virginia has few.