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Broadband: Fix speed along with access

There’s a lot of talk lately about bringing broadband internet access to West Virginians. West Virginia’s Department of Economic Development says it is bringing quality broadband internet to hundreds of thousands of homes in the state. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin rightly wants us to have a sense of urgency in getting this done similar to that of bringing electricity to homes in the 1930s.

It’s a big deal. But according to hotdog.com (a website dedicated to being a “cord-cutting resource,” and which therefore promotes the adoption of internet streaming services), West Virginians who do have internet access have the slowest internet in the country.

Yep. We’re dead last there, too. Our internet service is on average 49% slower than the national average. Our average download speed is 60.7 mbps; the national average is 119.0 mbps. Only 64.3% of Mountain State households have broadband internet; and only 68.6% have a desktop or laptop computer.

According to the latest census data, there are 734,235 households in West Virginia. Officials who find themselves inundated with federal money to do so cannot move quickly enough in getting quality broadband internet access to the hundreds of thousands who do not have it. But they must also ensure companies are doing right by the rest — some of whom are being told they have “quality” internet access, but in reality deal with outages and slowdowns the likes of which make it impossible to work or learn remotely.

Remember, we’re trying to attract and retain employers and residents in an era where quality, reliable high-speed internet access truly is a necessity. Having, on average, the slowest internet in the country is not going to do that.

There is no room for error in correcting this shortfall, now.

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