Facebook to Build Out Fiber Network in West Virginia

Facebook's project is part of a larger effort to build a fiber optic network from Virginia to Ohio, giving cities along the way an opportunity to plug in. Work will begin in 2019 and last for at least a year and a half.

by The Fayette Tribune / March 8, 2019

(TNS) — West Virginia’s Internet infrastructure is expanding through a collaboration with Facebook, according to an announcement made by Gov. Jim Justice at a Monday press conference.

Facebook, through its subsidiary Middle Mile Infrastructure, is planning to build a high capacity fiber optic cable network crossing a portion of West Virginia as part of the company’s ongoing larger network infrastructure build stretching from Virginia to Ohio, a press release from Justice’s office stated.

The state plans to maximize the benefit of this advanced Internet infrastructure by using excess bandwidth on the fiber to expand connectivity into West Virginia communities. The governor said his administration is committed to working with West Virginia’s congressional delegation and private partners to improve broadband connectivity in West Virginia. This project provides the foundation necessary for additional broadband infrastructure expansion.

“Broadband development is absolutely critical to moving West Virginia forward,” Gov. Justice said. “An investment of this magnitude in our state is really big news and will help us continue to show the world how great West Virginia truly is.”

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, long a supporter of broadband development through her Capito Connect Plan, joined Gov. Justice to announce the development.

“Making sure West Virginia has reliable, high-speed Internet has been a priority of mine since I was first elected to Congress,” Sen. Capito said. “Today’s announcement with Facebook is an important step toward ensuring our state has the critical infrastructure to support broadband deployment, and I know it will help so many in our state, especially the rural communities that are unserved,” she said in the press release.

“I’m excited for what a fully connected West Virginia can offer the rest of the country, as well as what it can do for the future of our state. Today’s announcement brings us another step closer to achieving that goal.”

The route will travel approximately 275 miles through West Virginia, starting at the western border, through the Kanawha Valley, then turn northwest to bring the fiber through the Appalachia region adding an important piece of fiber infrastructure to the Appalachia region.

Work is slated to begin in 2019 and is expected to take about 18 to 24 months to complete.

“Access to broadband Internet drives economic growth and opportunity, but there are still too many unserved communities, including here in West Virginia. We see the need for long haul fiber as an opportunity to provide critical infrastructure where it did not previously exist. To that end, we’ve designed our project to attract potential local and regional providers to expand broadband Internet access for the communities surrounding our builds,” said Kevin Salvadori, Director of Network Investments, Facebook.

The project will provide the opportunity to significantly enhance Internet connectivity in West Virginia, building upon the state’s proximity between major Internet exchanges and establishing the state as a preferred route for fiber backbone construction. With access to this Internet infrastructure, broadband providers can expand middle-mile networks into communities along the route.

“We are very excited to expand West Virginia’s Internet infrastructure through this partnership with Facebook,” Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch said. “I supported Governor Justice’s Roads to Prosperity initiative because good roads are crucial to our state’s economic success — and in today’s economy, Internet infrastructure is every bit as important.”

©2019 The Fayette Tribune (Oak Hill, W.Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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