WEST VIRGINIA BROADBAND MAPPING PROJECT NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE

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WEST VIRGINIA BROADBAND MAPPING PROJECT NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE

CHARLESTON, W. Va. — With the click of a mouse, it’s now possible to find areas in West Virginia that have broadband Internet service available, according to West Virginia Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette. The interactive broadband mapping project is available online at www.WVBroadbandMap.org . The project has been developed by the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey to provide an easily read map that shows a comprehensive picture of existing broadband service and identifies areas of the state that still do not have it.

“Broadband is important for the economic development of the state and the nation,” said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. “Many businesses, government agencies and public services like hospitals and educational facilities need broadband to manage daily work tasks, provide expanded services, and remain competitive in the global marketplace. With Internet activity becoming a necessity for business and everyday life, broadband access is often sought by those businesses seeking to move to our state. Offering and expanding broadband service requires all interested parties to work together and the West Virginia Broadband Mapping Program supports that effort.”


USES FOR THE BROADBAND MAP

By providing accurate, up-to-date information of served, under-served, and un-served areas of broadband service and the technology types that are available to West Virginia citizens, the map helps to identify areas for potential future development and encourages the provision  and expansion of broadband service.

• By clicking on different areas of the interactive map, the viewer can see not only which areas have broadband service available, but also links to the service providers in those areas. The viewer then can contact the service providers to find out rates, services available and possible plans to expand into other areas.

• In addition to identifying served, under-served, and un-served areas, the interactive map shows broadband service types and technologies at different scales. Users can identify broadband service providers for a specific location on the map by entering an address or geographic coordinates.

• The map also will help local governments and businesses with planning where broadband should be if it’s not available yet. They then can apply for federal and state grants to extend broadband in to those areas.

 “We see this effort as a major economic development tool,” said Burdette.  “We will continue working with broadband providers and local leaders to expand coverage in areas that have it, and also to supply coverage to areas of the state that continue to be un-served or under-served.”


ABOUT THE PROJECT

In October 2009, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) State Broadband Data & Development Program (SBDD) awarded approximately $1.4 Million to West Virginia for the statewide broadband mapping and planning effort. An additional $3.3 million grant was awarded in September 2010 to continue broadband mapping activities for years 3‐5 and support the development of long‐term, sustainable plans for increasing access to and use of broadband across the State. West Virginia’s grant was one of 56 awarded nationwide by NTIA totaling $190 million to support state efforts to compete in the digital economy.

The grant is designed to help state efforts to create ways to assist small businesses and community institutions to use technology more effectively, research and investigate barriers to broadband adoption, encourage innovative applications that increase access to government services and information, and to help state and local task forces expand broadband access and adoption.

In partnership with the Nick J. Rahall II Appalachian Transportation Institute (RTI), the West Virginia GIS Technical Center (WVGISTC), the Regional Planning Councils, and the Office of GIS Coordination (OGC), the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey (WVGES) is using the grant to identify and assess areas of the state that have low levels of broadband use. Then it will develop statewide and local plans to improve broadband adoption and deployment.

These organizations (the Regional Councils, WVGISTC, RTI, WVGES and the OGC) also are providing direct technical assistance to 11 regional broadband planning teams that will be created to do the assessment, as well as to individual municipalities that may, for example, require a cost modeling assessment in order to apply for a grant or loan. The regional planning teams will work with stakeholders to develop a broadband awareness and adoption plan and work to assess opportunities for broadband-based economic development.

Local governments and businesses will be able to use the interactive application to analyze current use of broadband technology to leverage Technical Assistance and Local Broadband Mapping Teams funds from the grant to educate communities on broadband service expansion opportunities. The teams will identify and promote areas for potential future development based on up-to-date broadband coverage information.

“The advancements we make to fully wire our state with high-speed Internet makes a compelling statement to our citizens, educational and health institutions as well as our current and future businesses that West Virginia is the place to live, learn and grow.  For our state to receive two rounds of funding in support of our broadband efforts to move West Virginia forward speaks volumes.  I applaud all of the people who have worked diligently to secure this funding so West Virginia can expand this important infrastructure,” said Gov. Tomblin.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 5, 2011

Contact: Tony Simental, West Virginia GIS State Coordinator (304) 558-4218
Hoy Murphy, Commerce Communications (304) 957-9365



FAQs FOR CITIZENS:

What is “broadband”?
Broadband refers to data transmission speeds greater than 768 kilobits per second.  Typically, DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) wired services, cable, wireless, satellite, and others operate at a speed greater than this.  Dial-up services run at slower speeds and are not considered “broadband.”

Why is broadband important?
Broadband is important for the economic development of the state and the nation.  Many businesses need broadband to complete daily work tasks.  Government agencies are delivering their audio and video services across broadband-speed connections.  Hospitals, clinics, and remote educational facilities (including universities) also need broadband to be able to digitally send and receive information.

What is the purpose of the West Virginia Broadband Mapping Program?
The purpose of the program is to develop an easily-read, interactive map that shows a comprehensive picture of existing broadband service and to identify areas of the state that still do not have it.

How can I tell if broadband service is available where I live?
Simply type in your address. If service is available, a list of broadband providers and their contact information will appear in a pop-up window.

What can I do if the map shows no broadband providers in my area?   
Contact the providers in nearby service areas and find out what their plans are concerning expansion. The availability of broadband access is always changing.

Why does the community right next to me have broadband service, but I don’t?
That is what this program is going to determine. The program will study underserved and unserved areas to determine why one community has broadband and an adjacent community does not.

How is this going to be done?
Surveys will be conducted throughout West Virginia. Program staff will use the latest scientific methods to analyze survey results to identify the reasons.

Will the West Virginia Broadband Mapping Program provide high-speed Internet service to my house?  
No.  The Mapping Program does not provide Internet service.  It does identify services available and also gaps in service areas, but it is up to broadband service providers to develop programs for the extension of service to unserved and underserved areas.

The map shows that there is broadband service in my area, but a check with the providers shows there is not. How can I report this inaccuracy?
Please contact broadband@geosrv.wvnet.edu and describe the inaccuracy you notice.  There is also a section on the interactive map for users to report such information.


FAQs FOR COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL LEADERS:

Is the state providing any incentives to encourage broadband providers to expand their services?
Yes. There are grants available for which broadband providers can apply to help offset the costs of expanding services into rural areas of West Virginia.

When can we expect broadband services to be in every corner of the state?
We’d like to see that happen as quickly as possible.  The state’s geography makes it unlikely that broadband service will ever be provided everywhere, but our hope is that broadband providers will make expansion plans when they see how many areas of the state are underserved or don’t have broadband access at all.

How often will the state map be updated?
Data for the state map are updated twice a year, at the end of March and at the end of September.  These updated data are submitted at those times to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for inclusion on the National Broadband Map.  After that submission, both the interactive state map and the static maps will be updated.

How is the data displayed on the maps collected?
The data is collected with the cooperation of the service providers.  The service providers send the necessary information and the data is mapped and updated accordingly.

What is considered a Community Anchor Institution?
A Community Anchor Institution is an entity that provides a service to the public – public safety institutions, universities and colleges, K-12 Schools, libraries, medical/healthcare facilities, and community support institutions (both governmental and non-governmental).


FAQs FOR THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY:

I have a small business in an area with no broadband services. What options do I have?
Find the list of service providers in the areas near you. Contact them and learn more about their expansion plans. Knowing that they have customers waiting may encourage them to accelerate their expansion plans in your area.

When all schools, libraries and 911 centers in the state have access to broadband, will businesses be the next priority?

State government realizes that businesses must have access to broadband services to be competitive and succeed. The goal of this project is to get services in those areas that don’t have it by clearly showing broadband providers where there is opportunity to expand.


FAQs FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS:

How can my company help expand broadband services in West Virginia?
Businesses can apply for federal and state grants to help extend broadband into the areas detailed on the map that don’t have service.

My company offers services in one area, but that is not reflected on the map. How can I report this inaccuracy?

Please contact broadband@geosrv.wvnet.edu and describe the inaccuracy you notice.  There is also a section on the interactive map for users to report such information.