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West Virginia one of three states with federal broadband plan approval

By Steven Allen Adams, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Nearly one year after the federal government awarded West Virginia more than $1.2 billion for broadband expansion, West Virginia was one of three states whose plan to implement that expansion was approved.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) approved West Virginia’s Volume II Initial Proposal for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. Kansas and Nevada’s plans were also approved.

Approval of the BEAD plan means West Virginia can begin drawing down the $1.2 billion in funding the state was awarded last June through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which was signed into law in 2021 and negotiated by U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

“This means West Virginia is another step closer to using our $1.2 billion towards efforts to better-connect homes, business, and classrooms across the state,” Capito said in a statement Thursday. “It’s no surprise to me that West Virginia came out ahead of so many other states that have more personnel because it’s hard to compete with the dedication of Governor (Jim) Justice’s team.”

“I’m just tickled to death. We’ve been pushing the living daylights out for this,” Manchin said Thursday during a virtual conference call with press. “We’ve really got to be connected … If we don’t get broadband now, we’re never going to get it.”

The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included $42 billion in funding for the BEAD program. States could begin submitting their BEAD programs as of last July, but no funding could be distributed until those plans were approved by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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