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WVForBroadband: Legislators hear ideas on broadband expansion

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CHARLESTON, W.Va.— This week, the West Virginia Legislature’s Joint Committee on Government Operations was presented with the opportunity to assist with the expansion of broadband access across the state.

On Monday afternoon, Andrew Emerson, Outside Counsel to AT&T, presented to the committee and addressed the rise in recent consumer and business demands for wireless data. He noted that the number of mobile subscribers in the U.S. has increased by more than 4 times since 1999.

“The way West Virginia communicates is changing,” stated Emerson. As the internet of things comes into play by 2030 an estimated 50 billion devices will be connected around the globe, and data usage on AT&T’s respective network has increased more than 360,000% since 2007. Currently, there are limited viable options to deal with that demand.

Those in attendance noted that the meeting was collegial and productive as members were informed about recent upgrades to technology and applications relating to 5G development and small cells.

Lisa Dooley, executive dDirector of the West Virginia Municipal League reacted to the presentation by stating, “Cities want 5G. They want reasonable fees and standards which adhere to the recent FCC ruling.”

Much of the purpose of 5G expansion will be to offload the impact on traditional towers.

Accordingly, the broadband network will continue to be built and enhanced with 5G with support from providers such as AT&T which has made a commitment to West Virginia and will be making an investment of $50 million in infrastructure upgrades. Of those, half of the projected 5G sites will be in unincorporated areas of the state, thereby increasing access areas and capacity.

During the session, legislators are likely to see legislation that will provide regulatory support for these expansions. Particularly, Speaker of the House, Roger Hanshaw, has stated publically that he aims to make broadband expansion and investment one of his leadership priorities. West Virginia for Broadband, along with the West Virginia Broadband Council, and broadband providers have slated an official Broadband Day at the state capitol to take place on January 23rd.

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