03.04.19

Capito, State Leaders Welcome Facebook to West Virginia for Major Technology Investment

Investment will result in better internet speeds, improve internet connections across rural West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and West Virginia Governor Jim Justice today joined representatives from Facebook for an announcement regarding Facebook’s plans to build a fiber optic cable that will run through parts of West Virginia. The project is expected to begin this year and will result in an approximate 275-mile route in West Virginia, providing the state with enhanced fiber optic connectivity. Senator Capito has worked for more than a year to make this project a reality, including discussing the issue directly with Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing.

“Making sure West Virginia has reliable, high-speed internet has been a priority of mine since I was first elected to Congress,” Senator Capito said. “Today’s announcement with Facebook is an important step toward ensuring our state has the critical infrastructure to support broadband deployment, and I know it will help so many in our state, especially the rural communities that are unserved. I’m excited for what a fully connected West Virginia can offer the rest of the country, as well as what it can do for the future of our state. Today’s announcement brings us another step closer to achieving that goal.”

Facebook’s investment will significantly enhance fiber optic connectivity in West Virginia by establishing an approximate 275-mile route through the state. The construction, which is planned to begin this year and last for roughly 18 to 24 months, will begin in Ashburn, Virginia, and end in Columbus, Ohio, connecting two major internet exchanges. As a result of the project, broadband providers will be able to expand middle-mile networks into communities along the route, and it will establish West Virginia as a preferred route for fiber backbone construction.

BACKGROUND

In addition to efforts by Governor Justice and the West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council, Senator Capito has long advocated for this partnership with Facebook and has advocated for similar investments. 

  • During an April 2018 Senate Commerce Committee hearing, Senator Capito asked Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for a commitment to helping close the digital divide in West Virginia, specifically referencing the fiber issue. Watch the exchange here.
  • In October 2018, Senator Capito joined Governor Justice and others to announce the global network services provider, Zayo’s plans to make the first large investment of fiber infrastructure in West Virginia. Today’s announcement marks the second long-haul fiber announcement in West Virginia in less than a year.
  • Today’s announcement also marks the second major technology investment in West Virginia this year. The first major announcement came several weeks ago when Senator Capito and global technology company Infor announced plans to open a new office in Charleston, bringing potentially 100 new tech jobs to the state.
  • In 2015, Senator Capito launched her Capito Connect plan, which includes helping communities with accessing federal resources to build out broadband networks. Most recently, she joined Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in announcing that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering up to $600 million in loans and grants to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America through the ReConnect program, which Senator Capito helped secure funds for in the FY2018 budget. Additionally, Congress appropriated an additional $550 million for the USDA rural broadband program in the FY2019 Appropriations bill, which was signed into law last month. Projects made possible through the partnerships with both Facebook and Zayo help communities utilize access points along these proposed routes, giving them the opportunity to seek funding through Capito Connect to provide service to residents and businesses.

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