West Va. puts statewide broadband network in motion

One lucky West Va. county will soon be able to tap into the capabilities of a new statewide hybrid microwave/fiber-based network.

Although West Va.'s Commerce Secretary Kelly Goes would not reveal which county would be the first recipient of the new network, she did say that "after we get the system working smoothly in that first county, we're going to wire everything that needs it in every county, statewide."

Financed through a $126 million federal broadband stimulus grant, West Va.'s statewide network will provide up to 45 Mbps speeds to over 1,000 public schools, libraries, health-care facilities and fire and police departments. West Va.--a state that began laying the groundwork for the network in 2007--will spend around $40 million to build out an additional 12 broadband-enabled microwave towers and another $40 million to Verizon have lay about 2,400 miles of fiber.

Verizon, which is in the process of transferring its West Va. operations to Frontier, will perform the fiber installation through what Goes describes as an "open-ended contract the service provider has held since 2007."

But the new network is not just about today's needs. The state is intentionally overbuilding the amount of capacity on the microwave towers and fiber network in hopes that it could potentially sell wholesale bandwidth and tower space to other service providers such as AT&T, Sprint and Suddenlink.

"If we can use the broadband stimulus dollars to overbuild fiber optic capacity in the communities, then that extra capacity can be expanded to the community in the future," said Kyle Schafer, CTO of the state broadband project.

For more:
- The Charleston Gazette has this story

Related articles:
Broadband stimulus: An enabler, not a panacea
West Virginia continues to protest Verizon-Frontier deal
Rural Telephone/Nex-Tech employs Occam for $101 million broadband stimulus project
Comptel 2010: RCN gets ready to build Open Cape Network
NTIA, RUS delay broadband grant awards