Work is expected to begin within the next couple years, after project officials have determined the best route.
(TNS) — State and national officials have announced the upcoming installation of a major fiber-optic network that will run approximately 200 miles across the north-central part of West Virginia.
Jack Waters, the chief technology officer and president of Fiber Solutions at the Zayo Group, said that the network will connect data centers in Columbus, Ohio, to data centers in Ashburn, Va., which is located just west of Washington, D.C.
The Zayo Group is a multi-billion dollar communications infrastructure company headquartered in Boulder, Colo.
Waters, a graduate of West Virginia University, said he was excited to come to Charleston to make the announcement.
"I'm just a simple engineer from West Virginia and it's a very proud moment for me," Waters said. "This is our first investment in West Virginia and it's a significant one. We're excited for the potential of the state."
According to Waters, the network will have many access points for local broadband companies to tie into to provide service to rural customers.
While the exact route is yet to be mapped out, Waters said that along with the lines being installed as planned, his company will install extra conduit lines for expansion projects and use by other partners.
"There will be a ton of expansion available," Waters said.
Waters also credited a partnership created with the state and access to state right-of-ways to make this project go forward. He said his company is now finding the best route forward, and expects to begin to work on the ground early next year with a 24- to 36-month timeline until completion.
Joining Waters for the announcement were West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, U.S. Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and state Senate President Mitch Carmichael.
Justice noted that Zayo plans to hire local crews to complete the work. He praised the project as a giant leap forward for the state, and tied it into his own highway projects.
"Really and truly all it is is a highway," the governor said. "It's a highway to connectivity."
Along with improving the business atmosphere in the state, Justice also piggybacked on ideas shared by Capito as an investment in the people of the state through access to online learning and online medicine.
The governor said he hopes that the project will do a great deal to catch the state up as it comes to quality access to high-speed and high-data connectivity.
Capito said that when she first went to the Senate, she decided that broadband expansion was critical to turning around the state and diversifying its economy.
"The announcement today is a driver of putting us in the right direction," Capito said.
Carmichael said Thursday's announcement was an example of the state's comeback story and of private business investment in the state.
"We are on the comeback," the state senate president said.
Carmichael added that other business investment will be attracted to the installation of the network.
©2018 The Register-Herald (Beckley, W.Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.