Braxton Citizens' News, Opinion

West Virginia is # 2 …

I get a lot of things that cross my desk. The majority wind up in the trash can, however, I do read most of them, if time allows. While the information is often not something that I want to save to share with our reading audiences, I do find some of it interesting and occasionally it turns into leads for stories that do appear on these pages.

At last Friday’s County Commission meeting, Citynet’s External Affairs Manager, Melissa O’Brien spoke to the County Commission regarding a grant that the Roane County Economic Development Authority and their counterparts in several other counties, including Braxton, had been awarded to improve internet service. It was enlightening to see that, finally there may be real progress opposed to lip service.

The announcement comes none too soon. I received a news release last week from a group called HighSpeedInternet .com regarding a survey they had run to determine which states had the best internet conductivity. Since their mission is to help improve internet access the primary focus of the article was to identify states in need. I did find it a little surprising that the fastest states are Connecticut, New Jersey, Florida, Delaware, and New Hampshire, in that order. Florida really doesn’t surprise me, but the balance being in the northeast did.

I guess it won’t surprise you when I tell you where West Virginia place?   We are number # 2 on this list, that’s not a good place to be. The Mountain State has the second slowest connectivity rate in the nation, only behind Alaska. You can understand Alaska… its vast compared to West Virginia and the population is sparce.

The news release made a number of interesting comparison and comments as to why some states were faster than others. Primarily, it came down to economics. Sparsely populated states are less attractive to internet providers looking to make a profit. Here is a portion of the release that sums it up rather well… “The states with the slowest speeds are mostly rural with relatively low population density—a reminder that America’s digital divide comes into stark focus in remote parts of the country.”

There is literally a ton of Federal money being thrown at improving internet service right now. I can only hope it will go to the intended cause and not in the pockets of for-profit companies and their stockholders like what has often happened in West Virginia. Keep your fingers crossed.