ARC Broadband Project Getting Closer to Start of Construction

At the March 14th meeting of the Pocahontas County Broadband Council, Cory Nipper of the Thompson and Litton Company (T&L) was asked where the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) Broadband Project currently stands.

Nipper reported that the “Make Ready” pole agreements which will allow fiber to be installed on the First Energy poles needed by the project are about a week away from being signed. He said once that is done, CityNet can move onto reaching similar agreements regarding the 38 Frontier poles that will also be needed for the project. CityNet is negotiating with Frontier about those. Nipper said once all pole agreements have been finalized, the project will be submitted to the DOH and when approved by them, they can begin the bidding process for the full construction. Nipper summed it up this way:

“So, we’re getting real close to the finish line,” said Nipper.

Amy Truesdale added that the project is actually moving along faster than expected, although it will still take 90 days after these pole agreements are signed and paid for before the utilities make their poles ready to receive fiber.

Regarding the National Telecommunication and Information Administration’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program broadband funding, Mike Holstine said the deadline for applying for these funds is in late July. He said the purpose of BEAD is to ensure all areas get broadband. Holstine said that despite BEAD not being allowed to provide broadband service in Frontier’s awarded RDOF areas of the county, there are still some places that remain open to BEAD, and also, BEAD fiber lines are allowed to pass through those RDOF restricted areas to reach other open areas.

Sarah Riley said she has been informed that the White house has been made aware of our problem with these Frontier RDOF closed areas. Holstine said BEAD grants seem to be designed to be mostly applied for by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) rather than by community or government organizations because of the 30% local funding match that BEAD requires. Amy Truesdale said she is worried that ISP’s will only apply for BEAD funding in those areas that will be profitable for them to operate in.

Holstine said that because of the work by the State Broadband Council, West Virginia was the third state in the country to complete and submit their 2 required submissions for BEAD funding, which should give WV some priority in receiving that funding.

Regarding the West Virginia “State Line Extension Advancement and Development” (LEAD) program funding, it was pointed out that Pocahontas County already has two approved LEAD projects funded:

  1. CityNet’s LEAD project which will bring broadband south from Valley Head to Marlinton
  2. Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks Telephone Company’s LEAD project, which will cover areas in Northern Pocahontas County, including Durbin, Green Bank and Arbovale.

Amanda Smarr said Region 4 has not yet learned about any additional LEAD project applications

It was also proclaimed that the FCC is ending their Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) after April. That program has allowed 140,000 low-income West Virginia families to receive a $30.00 monthly credit on their internet bills. Holstine said he does not believe that program will be restarted.

It was also decided that Amanda Smarr will be updating broadband service maps on the council’s website, adding the ability for the viewer to turn on or off the view of different projects on the map. Outdated service maps will be removed as well.

Additionally, there was a short discussion about Frontier trucks being observed all around the Stomping Creek area, but no one at the meeting had any clue about what they may be doing. Sarah Riley asked the public if they see any Frontier crews working along the roadside to stop and ask them what they are doing, and to let her know what they say.

After the meeting, Mike Holstine sent out an email which says the FCC has just quadrupled the required download speeds that ISP’s have to provide to be broadband service. Now they have to provide 100 megabytes per second down and 20 megabytes per second up in order to legally market their service as being true broadband.


Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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