December 13, 2018

Manchin Applauds USDA Program to Prioritize Broadband Deployment in West Virginia

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) applauded the United States Agriculture Department (USDA) for deploying the e-Connectivity Pilot Program, which aims to improve connectivity and closing the digital divide in rural and geographically challenging portions of the state. Now, businesses, non-profits and communities in West Virginia can apply for the ReConnect Program for funding for broadband deployment.

“West Virginia faces unique challenges when it comes to providing broadband access, and the first step to fixing that is making sure rural states like West Virginia are priority. Strong broadband access for the Mountain State will be a game changer to not only our economy, but also our public safety, education, and connectivity to our friends and family. I am glad the USDA is launching this program that will help prioritize broadband deployment for rural states like West Virginia,” Senator Manchin said.

Funding for the e-Connectivity Pilot Program comes from the fiscal year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill which Senator Manchin voted to approve on March 23, 2018. The same bill also includes various broadband mapping provisions that Senator Manchin authored to help target federal support to the places that need it most, including the Rural Wireless Access Act which requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to standardize its collection of wireless coverage data and ensure it is collected in a consistent manner, and explicit requirements that the FCC report on the actions they will take to improve the collection of mobile broadband coverage data to address the limitations of the current data.

On September 26, Senator Manchin lead a bipartisan letter with seven of his colleagues in the U.S. Senate to encourage U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to prioritize rural and geographically challenging areas in the implementation of its e-Connectivity Pilot Program. The program allots $600 million to invest in high-speed internet and broadband access across the country.