ARC Broadband Project Moving Forward -Sort of!

During a very short April 11th Pocahontas County Broadband Council Meeting, Brian Tew of Thompson and Litton, was asked the status of the ARC Broadband Project. He responded this way:

“With regards the DOH (WV Department of Highways) and Frontier (pole use) permitting, we were in a kind of a holding pattern until the agreement between Pocahontas County and CityNet was finalized,” Tew said. “That was approved at the last County Commission Meeting, so, hopefully that’s not going to be a hold-up any longer.”

However, Tew then described another project hold-up which involves the West Virginia Department of Highway (DOH) permits.

“We’ll get it in expeditiously, but I’m not going to hold my breath,” said Tew. “We’ve got other projects that are in que (with DOH) and well, we are not even getting responses back. I mean it’s just a process. There are some hold-ups there outside of anybody’s control.”

Later in the meeting, Tew and Mike Holstine had a conversation during which it was explained that the DOH is very slow in reviewing all broadband permits across the state because they are short of permit reviewers; each DOH region has it’s own standards for the reviews; and they do not provide a centralized electronic portal to which permit applications can be submitted.

The two West Virginia “State Line Extension Advancement and Development” (LEAD) grants in Pocahontas County were also discussed.

  1. CityNet is still working with the state on an agreement about their LEAD project which is bringing broadband south from Valley Head to Marlinton.
  2. The Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks Telephone Company (SKSRT) is still in the early stages of its LEAD project, which will cover areas in Northern Pocahontas County, including Durbin, Green Bank and Arbovale. They are currently working with the Flood Plain Coordinator regarding an environmental review of the project.

Regarding the National Telecommunication and Information Administration’s (NTIA’s) Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, Melissa O’Brien expressed concerns that because of the required 10% letter of credit and the 25% matching funds that Internet Service Providers (ISPs,) must submit up front to qualify for BEAD broadband grants, only large ISPs, such as one very large one we all know, but which was not specifically named, will have a very big advantage to be the controlling ISP for much of the state’s broadband services. It was suggested that the State of West Virginia should be asked to provide financial assistance to smaller ISPs to enable them to be competitive in obtaining BEAD grants.

Just how important to the state are these BEAD projects? Well, Holstine announced that the NTIA has just informed the state that they are authorizing 1.2 billion dollars in BEAD grants in West Virginia.

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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