West Va. broadband council's grant fails to attract applicants

Council has $4 million in funds to distribute
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West Virginia's Broadband Deployment Council on Thursday said that while it has $4 million in funds to distribute to telecom service providers and other nonprofit groups to use, it has not been able to attract any interest.

Anyone interested in using the money has until the close of business Friday to apply for grants to extend broadband services into the rural segments of the state.

As of the end of Wednesday, the council said it had not received one application.

"We have no applications officially submitted," said Jan Fox, a broadband council member, in a Charleston Gazette article. "Nobody's going to go early."

The council did say that 11 organizations began filling out applications and 36 groups registered at the council's website, www.broadbandgrants.wv.gov.

When the deadline expires on Friday, the council said that while it would reveal applicant names and proposed projects on the West Virginia secretary of state's website, it would not say how much money each applicant was requesting.

West Virginia has been traditionally dominated by two main broadband service providers--Frontier Communications (Nasdaq: FTR) and Lumos Networks (Nasdaq: LMOS).

Frontier, which became the largest telco in the state when it purchased Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) rural lines in 2010, has, not surprisingly, made West Virginia one of its key broadband expansion targets. Earlier this week, the service provider announced that it would start delivering up to 25 Mbps DSL services to 405,000 West Virginia residential and business customers.

Meanwhile, Lumos Networks, which was created when nTelos separated its wireless and wireline divisions into two separate companies, has been continually upgrading its metro and long-haul fiber network in West Virginia and surrounding states via its own organic initiatives and the acquisition of FiberNet in 2010. These initiatives have allowed Lumos to serve its rural customers with up to 6 Mbps copper-based DSL and 10-20 Mbps FTTH-based tiers.

For more:
- The Charleston Gazette has this article

Related articles:
Frontier to serve up higher broadband speeds in West Va.
nTelos breaks up wireless and wireline holdings into separate units
NTELOS buys FiberNet from One Communications