Months have passed since the state of West Virginia passed a new law (SB488) that allowed the Governor to appoint members to a Broadband Enhancement Council. The Council would report back to the governor and Legislature with suggestions on improving and expanding high-speed Internet across the state.
Eric Eyre, a reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Mail who has done a fantastic job covering the issue of terrible broadband in West Virginia, has a recent update on the Council: The Governor has yet to appoint a single person.
The lack of urgency by the Governor makes little sense. West Virginia is ranked near last in most state rankings of either broadband access or broadband speeds.
Another reason for the delay could be the fact that ISP’s in the state will not be a part of this new Council. Gone are lobbyists from Frontier Communications, Verizon and Suddenlink.
The new council will consist mostly of members who represent consumers and businesses that subscribe to Internet services. The council will have 13 members, six of whom must represent residents and businesses in rural communities. Two members will represent urban areas, and a single member must represent “users of large amounts of broadband services.” Other seats will be assigned to the state commerce secretary, state schools superintendent, vice chancellor of higher education and chief technology officer. – Charleston Gazette-Mail
But why were ISP’s banned from such a Council? Let’s see how they have treated state residents over the last few years.
Whether it is Frontier lying about how they had agreed with several competing companies to use their unused fiber lines, Frontier billing West Virginia for fiber costs that had been built for half the price elsewhere, Frontier objecting to other companies trying to build fiber-optic lines, or Frontier being sued for age discrimination, Frontier has shown that it has little to no interest in investing in West Virginia and more an interest in doing whatever it can to increase profits.
Let’s not also forget Verizon and Cisco convincing the state to buy ridiculously overpriced, overpowered and unused routers and several ridiculously overpaid consultants who hadn’t actually accomplished anything.