Broadband internet bill advances in House

Staff Report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Legislation aimed at expanding high-speed wireless and broadband internet development in West Virginia has advanced in the House of Delegates.

According to a report from The Associated Press, the House committee on technology and infrastructure approved the bill Wednesday and forwarded it to the House judiciary committee.

The AP report added: “The bill would allow broadband providers to install updated technologies on existing rights-of-way and utility poles, resulting in a saving of capital costs. It also would require power companies to study the feasibility of providing broadband technologies on their existing infrastructure. The state Public Service Commission would oversee the bill’s provision. To further reduce costs and encourage investment, the bill would establish a method of calculating the valuation of wireless technology for tax purposes.”

A press release from the West Virginia House of Delegates Communications Director Jared Hunt on Wedesnday, included quotes from Committee Vice Chairman Daniel Linville, R-Cabell, the lead sponsor of the bill and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay.

“The Broadband Expansion Act of 2019 is a tremendous effort after collaboration between all levels of government, interested parties, and internet service providers to expand high-speed internet connectivity for all West Virginians and position the state as a leader in the adoption of 5G cellular technology access,” Linville said.

“For too long, West Virginia has fallen behind the rest of our nation in access to the greatest library in human history – the internet,” Linville said. “This bill positions West Virginia better than ever before to connect our residents, students and businesses to the entire world.”

“Broadband connectivity is absolutely essential to participate in the 21st century economy,” said House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay. “If we truly want to make West Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family, we have to do all we can to promote high-speed internet technologies across our state.

“We have made tremendous strides in the past few years, and are now a national leader in adopting new legislation to promote broadband development,” Hanshaw said. “This bill will further send the message that West Virginia is eager and open to embrace the latest broadband and wireless technologies the private sector has to offer.”

According to the AP report, the Federal Communications Commission says 82 percent of West Virginians have access to fixed broadband internet speeds.

This article includes information provided by Jared Hunt, communications director, West Virginia House of Delegates and The Associated Press.

Staff Report