Broadband Arrives in Rural Morgan County

PAW PAW, W.Va. — A new U.S. Cellular tower was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday morning at the tower site on Paw Paw Road in western Morgan County.

Morgan County Commissioner Bob Ford said that before the tower became fully functional on Thursday, area residents had only dial-up Internet service and not a high-quality voice service.

“Paw Paw is now connected to all of Morgan County,” Ford said.

Morgan County Commission President Brad Close said the 280-foot tower was approved to be built in 2009 by the Morgan County Planning Commission. It was built in 2010 by Liberty Tower Co., but sat idle.

Close said U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., called last year looking for a tower as part of her “Capito Connect” program to expand broadband access in the Paw Paw community.

Close said the broadband project was a collaboration between Capito and U.S. Cellular with support from the Morgan County Commission.

“From an economic development standpoint, this is a game-changer for Paw Paw,” he said.

Having state-of-the-art cell service is part of life, Capito said.

Capito said she has been working toward getting cellular access for the “underserved in unserved areas” since she became a member of Congress.

“Paw Paw is small but a spread-out region, and Morgan County is now connected,” she said.

The high-speed broadband service is funded by the Universal Service Program and needs “an infusion of federal funding to ensure that all rural communities can experience the benefits that wireless broadband brings,” U.S. Cellular President and Chief Executive Officer Ken Meyers said.

Berkeley Springs, W.Va., about 25 miles east of Paw Paw, has had wireless Internet access since about 2000, Ford said.

“As we celebrate this network expansion in Paw Paw, we can’t lose sight of other communities in rural areas that lack access to modern wireless broadband services,” Meyers said.

By:  Trish Rudder
Source: Herald Mail-Media