CHARLESTON – Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, today joined with U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Governor Jim Justice, and Jack Waters, CTO and President of Fiber Solutions for Zayo Group, to announce a major fiber broadband network expansion project.
Waters, who is a graduate of West Virginia University, announced that Zayo plans to construct a 200-mile fiber optic communications pipeline across West Virginia. The West Virginia segment is part of a fiber backbone that will run between Columbus, Ohio, and Ashburn, Va.
The project is expected to begin at the beginning of the year and will take between 24 and 36 months. In exchange for expedited access to rights-of-way, Zayo plans to use local crews for the construction project and will provide high-quality fiber to the state, which will greatly help with the goal of expanding high-speed broadband internet access throughout rural parts of West Virginia.
“Today’s news is absolutely wonderful for the State of West Virginia,” Senate President Carmichael said. “When the Legislature created the Broadband Enhancement Council, we created it with the belief that a lack of high-speed internet access in our state’s rural areas puts those residents at a direct disadvantage as it relates to education, health care, and social interaction. This critical infrastructure will be key to leveling that playing field across the state and giving these citizens the opportunities they deserve.”
The Legislature has made broadband expansion a priority in the previous two sessions, passing key bills that allow communities to develop high-speed internet co-ops and to provide for an efficient way for companies to deal with excavations and access to rights-of-way.
“There’s no question in my mind that high-speed internet access is absolutely essential in today’s world,” Senate President Carmichael said. “If we want to continue to attract new jobs and diversify our economy, we need to take advantage of every opportunity we have to expand access to high-speed internet. Zayo could have chosen any route it wanted for this fiber backbone, but it chose to make itself a part of West Virginia. I’m thrilled to welcome them here, and I am excited for the communities that will see the benefits of this partnership.”