The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced Tuesday that it is collaborating with eight states, including West Virginia, to broaden and update the national broadband availability map.
Other states include California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.
David Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator, said in order to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband, a more precise picture is needed of the current services and infrastructure that are available.
“NTIA’s work on an updated map, in partnership with these initial states, will help policymakers around the country make better decisions as they devise broadband expansion plans," Redl said.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 directed NTIA to update the national broadband availability map using its previously developed state partnerships. The initial eight state partners were chosen because they reflect geographic diversity, participate in NTIA’s State Broadband Leaders Network, have active state broadband plans or programs, and were willing to contribute data that can be combined with nationwide data sources to give policymakers a deeper understanding of broadband availability.
"We are thrilled that West Virginia has been selected to join NTIA in its Broadband Mapping Program," said Rob Hinton, chairman of the West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council. "Accurate mapping is critical in guiding investment decisions and pushing connectivity into rural areas. We are eager to assist NTIA in the development of broadband maps that more accurately portray connectivity within West Virginia’s communities."
“As we work to close the digital divide in rural America and other underserved areas across the country, this is another positive step in the right direction,” U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said in a release. “Accurate availability maps are absolutely crucial for informed decision-making, and West Virginia will undoubtedly benefit from being a key player in this process to expand access."
Capito, co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, added, "I’m glad to see our efforts to deliver NTIA the resources to move forward with important projects like this one are paying off, and I will continue working through my Capito Connect program to make even more progress in better connecting our communities.”
In a separate release, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he looks forward to seeing the results of this partnership.
“Our state, the West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council and my office have been leading the effort to make sure that communities in West Virginia without broadband coverage are accurately reflected in broadband availability maps," Manchin said. "As the only member of Congress to formally challenge a broadband coverage map, I have been working hard to ensure these maps depict the real-world experiences of West Virginians so that our state is in a better position to receive the critical funding it needs to deploy broadband."
NTIA expects to seek participation from additional states, territories, and federally recognized tribes that have broadband programs or related data-collection efforts. The initial map will include available nationwide data for every state combined with state-level data from the eight states.
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