West Virginia approves $20.8M in broadband grant money for six projects

West Virginia gave preliminary approval to $20.8 million in grant funding through its Major Broadband Project Strategies (MBPS) program for a series of six “massive” broadband infrastructure projects across the state, according to a statement from West Virginia Governor Jim Justice.

The launch of these six projects represents the first round of MBPS-funded build-outs, and will result in more than 628 miles of new fiber infrastructure, providing broadband connectivity to 5,849 homes and businesses in West Virginia, the statement said

The state’s total investment of $20,845,157 will leverage an additional $13,279,926 from other funding sources, for a total broadband infrastructure investment of $34,125,083 for this round alone.

The MBPS program itself is a branch of Gov. Justice’s “Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy” announced in October 2021. That plan aims to bring broadband to 200,000 previously unserved West Virginia homes and businesses. This strategy combines a $236 million state broadband program with $362 million in Federal Communications Commission funding and $120 million from other state and federal sources, for a total of $718 million in government funding, all of which is expected to be allocated by sometime this fall. Along with matching funds from private sector and local government partners, more than $1 billion will be invested in relate broadband projects.

“These projects are going to make a massive difference in the lives of so many West Virginians,” Gov. Justice said in the statement. “They’re going to enable people to have incredible broadband access in areas of our state that have never had it before.”

He added, “This will help people who need high-speed internet to work remotely and help students be able to do their homework, give our seniors better access to telehealth options, allow businesses to reach more customers than ever. The possibilities go on and on and West Virginians everywhere deserve this critical access. I applaud all the hard work that went into making this announcement possible.”

This announcement comes one month after West Virginia was identified as one of the first for states to receive federal broadband funding from the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fun