CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — It is no secret. West Virginia has some of the worst internet and cell phone connectivity in the nation. Many locations, especially in rural areas, have no service at all. In an effort to address that, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was in Charleston Friday, talking with the West Virginia Broadcasters Association.
“Our universal service fund, which is a fund of about nine billion dollars each year, we are targeting unserved parts of the country. We want to make sure that every American, especially folks here in West Virginia, get access to that technology,” said Ajit Pai, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.
And West Virginia Senators Manchin and Capito want to make sure the Mountain State gets its share of that money. The FCC has been mapping West Virginia and other states to identify those who have service and those who don’t, and how fast that service is. But Senator Joe Manchin has challenged the maps as being highly inaccurate.
“And the reason for this is we have to change these maps and make sure they are accurate, because we will not be able to access the money for rural broadband connectivity,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia.
The FCC Chairman and both U.S. Senators will join us this weekend on Inside West Virginia Politics. The internet issue is not just about people’s daily access, but it’s also seen as key to economic development in the Mountain State.
“When you look at a company wanting to come to West Virginia, to relocate or to have workers here, maybe working remotely. If you don’t have that broadband connection, that’s a big strike against you,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R) West Virginia.
Wide internet access is also seen as critical for education and health care.
“The bottom line, having the FCC Chairman come to West Virginia to see the troubles with cell phone service and internet access first hand, might speed up the process to get those issues fixed,” said Mark Curtis, 59 News Chief Political Reporter.