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Infrastructure for West Virginia broadband expanding

CHARLESTON — The ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony was held last week at Tamarack to commemorate the beginning of a major broadband development project to expand internet infrastructure throughout West Virginia.

Facebook through its subsidiary Middle Mile Infrastructure is building a high-capacity fiber optic cable network crossing a portion of West Virginia as part of the company’s larger network infrastructure project from Virginia to Ohio. The New River Project as it is called by Facebook representatives was announced in March 2019.

Boh DuPree, Facebook sourcing manager, credited the West Virginia departments of Transportation, Commerce and Arts, Culture and History for getting the project off the ground.

“It takes an enormous amount of teamwork, partnership and collaboration as we kick off a large project like this. I would like to recognize all the teams that came together,” DuPree said in a release from the governor’s office. “I know each of you are devoted to broadband infrastructure in West Virginia and we’re really excited, as Facebook, to be a partner in that mission.

“With the support of all the professionals in West Virginia, we’ve been able to finalize our engineering, we’ve been able to submit permits, and we’re ready to kick of construction, which is extremely exciting,” he said.

Full-scale work on the project is expected to begin within the next 10 to 16 months. From there, the project will take about 18 to 24 months to complete. The project will provide an opportunity to significantly enhance internet connectivity in West Virginia. The project builds upon West Virginia’s proximity between major internet exchanges and establishes the State as a preferred route for fiber backbone construction. With access to this internet infrastructure, broadband providers can expand middle-mile networks into communities along the route. Among state, federal and company participants in the ceremony were Gov. Jim Justice, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Rep. Carol Miller, R-3rd.

“I truly believe that we need to take every opportunity that we can to continue connecting West Virginia to the outside world. And increasing access to broadband, through a project of this magnitude, is the perfect way to do that,” Justice said. “Access to high-speed internet opportunities will allow us to bring in new people and businesses, which will lead to more great jobs for countless hardworking West Virginians.”

The state plans to maximize the benefit of this advanced internet infrastructure by using excess bandwidth on the fiber to expand connectivity into West Virginia communities. This project provides the foundation necessary for additional broadband infrastructure expansion.

Capito and Miller have been instrumental in making the project a reality.

“I’m glad Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg followed through on his commitment he made to me during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing where I asked him to partner with West Virginia on rural fiber deployment,” Capito said.

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