Senate Bill 315 passed through the Senate today, February 18, 2016.
“This is going to move us up,” says Senator Chris Walters, “this is going to help our state."
Walters’ broadband bill would provide for the construction of a statewide fiber optic broadband infrastructure network that would operate as a middle mile. Private Internet providers would connect from the middle mile to the businesses and residences in rural areas of West Virginia.
The bill, which had 22 sponsors, received a healthy debate by opposing Senators. The bill ultimately passed through the Senate with a 29–5 vote. The bill will now move to the House of Delegates for consideration.
The broadband bill moves to increase access to broadband service for a greater number of unserved or underserved households and businesses in West Virginia.
The Federal Communication Commission ranks West Virginia 48th in access to high-speed broadband Internet service.
Senator Walters says, “We belong to a body of government dedicated to offering an equal voice to every constituent in the state. Our broadband infrastructure reflects none of that equality.”
The fiber optic cable would be owned and operated by the State of West Virginia. Internet services from the fiber optic cable would be open to business and residential users in the state.