I have mentioned the commitment of the County to earmark $1 million dollars of American Rescue Plan funds to expand broadband in the state. That money will leverage three additional million for the county.
I have voiced my skepticism when it comes to large amounts of money falling from the sky. History illustrates that our state doesn’t do well giving public monies to private concerns for expansion or development. Apparently, our leaders haven’t learned anything by their past experiences. One of the most recent fundings for broadband sent a large sum of money to Frontier. They squandered the money and we got absolutely nothing for it. Were there repercussions from the State? No. Did the State learn from their bad experiences? Again, No.
Adding to my skepticism… Frontier is proposed to be a major player in this latest round of expansion/funding. I have been told that checks and balances are in place to guarantee that we don’t have a repeat performance. I will wait and see how that works out?
In the way of a little bit of explanation on the $4 million round of funding… Braxton is part of a multi-county effort to improve broadband capabilities. That group hired an engineer firm to develop plans for the multi-county area which appears to be moving along nicely.
When the opportunity to get additional funding on a 3 to 1 match came along. The Braxton County Development Authority provided a small amount of funding to this engineering firm, which was already working on the matter in our area, to identify rural routes that could be served as additional fiber optic cable and technology is being deployed. Both the Development Authority and the County Commission have reviewed the areas proposed for service. While I’m still concerned that this is a huge amount of money that I can only hope at this point will be properly utilized, the time frame made it imperative that the county commit to the project or loose the opportunity.
I will get my hands on those routes and either present them here in this space or in some other form in the paper. I’m sure not everyone will get affordable broadband service if the project comes to fruition. In fact, I am convinced that there simply is no way that all of the county can have superfast broadband service due to the typography of our area and the remoteness of many households. We have to be content with what is feasible. That has to come through a non-partisan means based on the infrastructure that is available and not the political influence some may or may not have.
I know that nothing was done behind closed doors with relation to the involvement of the Development Authority which I am a part of. There were no public meetings regarding this project for two reasons. The time factor and the fact that if the infrastructure wasn’t in place, or going to be through one of the other ongoing projects, for a particular area it just couldn’t be served. At any rate, the concept is positive and a giant step forward. I guess we will have to be satisfied with that, for the time being.