CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Senator Chris Walters, R-Putnam, filed Senate Bill 315 for introduction on January 19, 2016. The bill was sent to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and moved through to the Committee on Government Organizations. The bill reported out of committee on Monday and will be read for the first time on Tuesday, February 16, 2016.
This bill, known as the “Broadband Middle Mile” bill, provides the construction of a state-wide, fiber optic broadband infrastructure network. The construction will be funded by federal grants and bonds, not requiring any money from the state, and could span 2,500 miles to every county in West Virginia. Companies will now be able to bring a business plan and commitment to use fiber strands from the state in order to receive grants and bonds to progress the fibers to our most-needed regions.
With this bill, Senator Walters looks to improve the telemedicine system and close the state’s homework gap, which is the largest in the nation. The homework gap is the issue students face when their internet service at home is so poor they cannot complete their online homework assignments. The infrastructure could provide the students with the same hi-speed internet at home, as they have at school.
If West Virginia passes this bill, it will become a leader in the nation in a model for private-public broadband internet service.