When West Virginia received $126 million from a federal grant to build a high-speed Internet infrastructure, it decided to use the funds to extend the current telephone lines. However, this plan has come under attack by Citynet, a local telephone service provider. The company has created a website and is taking out ads to try to rally the residents of the state to pay attention to this issue.
According to Jim Martin, the CEO of Citynet, the state’s decision regarding the high-speed Internet infrastructure may cripple the state for years to come. His belief is that West Virginia needs to use the funds to build a middle-mile solution capable of delivering high-speed connectivity rather than relying on an outdated model.
From the moment Citynet learned about the state’s plan, it has been lobbying for changes. Martin has called the state and asked it to suspend using the grant; however, the state has not responded to the request. Citynet hopes the citizens will join with him to ensure the state uses the funds in a way that better incorporates the government’s plan for them.
Martin backs his support for a middle-mile solution by highlighting the benefits to Internet service, which include better quality, faster connection speeds, and higher capacity at a reduce rate. As a company awarded for bringing Internet solutions to areas with limited connectivity, Citynet may be in the best position to lead this fight.
The state was to use the grant, provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to improve the Internet structure for over 700,000 households and 110,000 businesses. In its application for the grant, the state indicated it would be building a middle-mile infrastructure, which is exactly what Citynet hopes the state will do. However, the state amended it plan to focus on a “last-mile” program, which would benefit a publicly traded phone company, Frontier Communications, hoping to capture most of the business from the endeavor.