Editorial: Broadband is a modern necessity

From The Charleston Gazette-Mail, Gazette editorial page:

A couple of years ago, Suddenlink invested millions and began providing 1-gigabit-per-second internet service to the Ohio Valley from Point Pleasant to New Martinsville. Parkersburg was dubbed “Gig City.” (A gigabit is a billion bits, and eight bits make a computer byte, or one written letter or number. A megabit is a million bits, one-thousandth of a gigabit.)

A Suddenlink official explained: “If you look at downloading the Encyclopedia Britannica, at three-meg it would take approximately three days … . At one-gig, it would take two minutes.”

Such high-speed service is essential for modern business, medicine, education and other aspects of the information economy. Yet, most of West Virginia sadly lacks it.

The Legislature is trying to extend faster broadband to the rest of the Mountain State — hurrah!

A glitch arose when a Senate committee wiped out provisions to let most communities band together to create high-speed service. Established commercial networks like Frontier and Suddenlink objected to competition from community groups.

However, Friday afternoon, the whole Senate restored the bill’s desirable features and passed it. We hope the House concurs and Gov. Jim Justice signs it into law.

All of America depends on fast access to the internet. Places without it become backwaters.

The 2017 regular legislative session ends at midnight Saturday. It’s heartening that efforts to develop good broadband access seem poised to pass in these final hours.

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