Even when the power is on, many in the state still don’t have broadband, the
kind of computer infrastructure that provides high speed access.
the Eastern Panhandle, residents are being asked to fill out a survey about
where they live, what kind of high speed Internet access they have and at what
speeds they can upload and download information.
Mullenax is a Geographic Information Systems analyst for the Region 9 Planning
and Development Council and he’s collecting the information to map out who has
what in Berkeley, Morgan and Jefferson counties.
said broadband is a critical infrastructure for economic development.
used to be if you want to attract a business to an area that you needed water,
sewer, a road and electricity,” he said.
“I think now as we continue to move
forward with how technologically engrained our society is having high speed
internet access is something that’s going to be critical not only for the
business side but for the residence side.”
points out many residents use high speed internet for tasks like paying the
bills and for entertainment.
of West Virginia’s 11
regional planning and development councils received a $50,000 state grant to do
information will go to the state Commerce Department’s Broadband Deployment
Council which will use it to create a high speed internet master plan for the
the survey has just started, Mullenax already knows access can be spotty even
in the more populated eastern counties.
hearing from residents, certain areas, for example to the east of the airport
in Martinsburg, we’re hearing a lot of residents there saying they don’t have
adequate access even though they are in somewhat close proximity to the air
guard,” he said.
we’ll be able to identify those areas and, there’s a lot of, one block has it,
one block doesn’t, this side of the road has it and this side of the road
doesn’t,” Mullenax said.
“So we’re just hoping that by people filling out the
surveys letting us know where they’re at and what service they’re getting we
can really get an accurate picture of what the reality is.”
said having an accurate picture will help Region 9, and the state, prioritize
where improvements should be made.
some areas perhaps where the terrain is extreme it might not be economically
feasible even with a grant and a private partnership to actually lay lines to
an area so we might be looking at microwave transmission towers, it could be WiFi
hotspots, something to that effect,” Mullenax said.
can take the survey online. But for those without internet access, printed
copies are available at the library in each county.
said Region 9 will keep its survey open until July 31 and is the first to begin
the process. The state wants all regional councils to complete their surveys
within 18 months.