Broadband investment a key to our future | News, Sports, Jobs

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The expansion of the broadband service has been a topic in the news quite a bit lately.

In Thursday’s edition, we reported on an announcement from Senator Joe Munchin’s office that he had donated just over $ 18,000 from the Federal Emergency Connectivity Fund to help provide wireless and broadband Internet service and to purchase computers and other equipment.

The award was part of the $ 561,000 announced for the state, with both Mineral County and Cable County schools receiving funding.

In recent years, many of our local public school districts have invested in similar technology, providing computers or tablets to their students and setting up hotspots in schools for use when forced to switch to distance learning as part of an epidemic precaution.

These efforts are good news for our education systems, as technology changes and lesson delivery changes with it. Improved web service makes it easier for teachers and students to access information, thus improving what is available in the classroom. It also provides a way to connect with others, including guest speakers, experts in certain fields or other classes.

In the wider community, officials in the Brock-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission have visited with district commissions all over the North, gathering support for an ongoing effort to install broadband “Backbone” Network in the area.

A few years ago, discussions were held between officials in Hancock and Brock counties, who joined forces to encourage state officials to get funding to help expand broadband. At some point in the past year, these efforts have increased to include Ohio County, Marshall Witzl, with the current proposal to sustain the “Backbone” Run from New Martinsville north to Chester.

BHJ CEO Mike Paprokey was at a meeting of the Hancock County Committee on Thursday, and spoke with Brock County Commissioners last week, provided an update on the efforts, noting that U.S. rescue program funds could be used to cover all local costs.

For Hancock County, there are four optional branches that officials are discussing to provide additional service areas, noting that officials want to specifically ensure broadband service is provided to the North Virton area, which is a current hub for economic development efforts in Hancock County. Area.

This would be a smart move, of course, as it would further enhance ongoing service efforts and hopefully make these areas more attractive for businesses and industries looking for a new home. When those same businesses choose to build in our area, it means new jobs, new taxes and better services, maybe new residents. These developments will then encourage further development, and have created a cascade of growth.

On top of all that, more broadband provides an opportunity to attract more ISPs to the region. We only have a few viable suppliers at the moment, so if there is a chance to attract others, it will cause some competition, and maybe even create an environment with better pricing options for residents and local businesses.

This is the kind of investment that our communities, and in fact our entire country, have needed for years. Tourism is great, and has provided many benefits to certain parts of West Virginia, but we need to prepare for the future while also meeting the needs of our current society. Communication is the key in today’s world, and it includes internet and mobile access.

I look forward to seeing where this leads in the coming months.

(Howell, a Collier resident, is the editor-in-chief of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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