Thursday, March 19, 2015

Major fail: West Virginia Internet infrastructure policy

The Charleston Gazette | W.Va. broadband panel to get new duties, but no funds: Roper’s group supported the broadband expansion bill, arguing the project would help improve education and healthcare, and spur entrepreneurship in West Virginia.

“If we solely depend on private industry, we’ll just stay at the status quo,” Roper said. “If students can’t access textbooks online at home, and if doctors can’t access electronic health records, we’re in trouble. [Broadband] is like good roads and water lines. It’s everything.”
This sums up the situation well, but the state's plan is to essentially pass the buck (and the hat) while continuing the useless exercise of mapping and comparing "broadband speeds" -- the do nothing approach favored by all too many state and local governments that won't build needed infrastructure:
The new legislation, which Tomblin is expected to sign into law, creates a “broadband enhancement fund,” but state lawmakers didn’t set aside any money for the fund. The bill, however, seems to  allow outside groups to donate to the fund. The panel also will receive any  money remaining from the former Broadband Deployment Council’s account, but the  council announced last year that it planned to spend all leftover funds on  final reports and audits. At the outset, the new broadband  council is expected to gather data about residential and business customers’  Internet speeds – and compare speeds to those advertised by broadband  providers. The new council also will be asked to examine existing  broadband networks.

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