West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced preliminary approval for close to $21 million in funding for six broadband infrastructure projects in the state. Comcast was the largest winner of this latest West Virginia broadband funding.
The $21 million in grants are part of an ongoing broadband infrastructure funding program in the state, labeled the Major Broadband Project Strategies (MBPS) program, which itself is a part of the Governor’s “Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy.”
This $21 million will help fund 628 miles of new fiber infrastructure, providing broadband connectivity to 5,849 homes and businesses throughout the state. Other sources of funding, including match funding, will kick in an additional $13 million, for a total of $34 million in funding.
“The magnitude of what we’ve done to expand access to broadband in West Virginia in such a short period of time is really unprecedented,” Gov. Justice said in a press release. “And what’s even more exciting is that we’re just getting started. We are going to keep announcing round after round of these projects until we light up every nook and cranny of our state with broadband. West Virginians everywhere should be incredibly excited.”
Comcast Wins Big
Cable MSO Comcast is by far the largest grant winner in this round, gaining $14.7 million of the $20.8 million to build 304 miles of fiber that will eventually reach 1,402 addresses in West Virginia. Comcast kicked in over $6 million in matching funds.
The Comcast West Virginia project will focus on addresses in Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, and Ohio Counties, which are located in the northern panhandle region of the state. Other grant winners include Shentel ($1.1 million), Frontier ($1.6 million), DQE Communications ($1 million), and Citynet ($2.2 million).
Large cable companies like Comcast have become much more active in targeting rural broadband expansion funding provided by state and federal governments. Charter is by far the most active, having already won over a billion dollars in RDOF funding.
Funding for state programs like this one in West Virginia come from a variety of sources, with much of it flowing from federal government programs like the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the CARES Act, and the U.S. Treasury Capital Funds Program.
Even more will soon be coming through the BEAD program, which allocates over $42 billion to be distributed to all 50 states and some U.S. territories.
Based on activity to date, we can probably expect large cable companies like Comcast and Charter to continue to be active participants in these rural broadband expansion funding programs.