Click here or on the image above to watch Senator Capito’s floor speech.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) delivered remarks on the Senate Floor regarding the need for strong, reliable broadband connection in West Virginia and across our nation. During the speech, Senator Capito noted the importance of reliable broadband as an educational and economic competition issue and emphasized the need for accurate coverage maps to make sure every home and business has strong, dependable internet access.
ON THE ECONOMIC NEED FOR BROADBAND: “Our topography in West Virginia has dealt us a challenging hand when it comes to adopting needed advancements to connect people to the internet. So we know one thing: it's expensive. And it's a lot easier said than done. But this lack of broadband connectivity and reliability is one of the biggest concerns that I hear every time I travel in the state. That's because our homes, our schools, our hospitals, our health clinics, our churches, our businesses, if they lack the appropriate level of connectivity, or lack it entirely, you're behind. You're behind. You're not participating. You don't you can't get the help that you need. You can't communicate the way you want to. In a lot of cases, you're not going to live in a place that doesn't have connectivity. So this is something that must change and something that I'm committed to changing.”
ON THE CAPITO CONNECT PLAN: “So one of my first initiatives as a United States Senator was launching my Capito Connect plan to help bridge this digital divide that we see in the country. The plan serve as a roadmap for bringing affordable, high-speed internet connection and access to our homes, our businesses, and our classrooms throughout the state. Since launching this initiative, we made a lot of progress. We have. Connecting our communities in our state, we've had a lot of conversations. And really we've kind of bridged a lot of what we thought would be the impossible. We've expanded cellular service in Paw Paw, a very remote area, and in Lincoln County, a very rural area by initiating searches for providers. We've secured millions of dollars in broadband funding- investments through the USDA programs. And we've hosted multiple visits with our FCC officials to bring attention to our state's broadband needs.”
ON FCC BROADBAND MAPS: “That's why NTIA and FCC have been tasked with developing the National Broadband Map: to determine where the unserved and the underserved communities were located… If they failed to properly account for the connectivity needs, I know I can speak from my state, but I'm sure it's the same all across the country. And this is something that our state of West Virginia, we really took it personally, because we know that this is a once in a lifetime chance to really get it right. So they invited challenges. They said ‘If you think or if you can identify a residence or a home or business that is not- that is shown as being served and you're unserved or underserved. Then you can challenge the map to say that's an inaccurate recording of the status of my broadband connectivity.’ So we had over 120,000 challenges, of which 86,000 of these were, were accepted. That means they went back and looked and working with our state broadband council has done a phenomenal job then went back and looked and found that 86,000 homes or businesses that were recorded as being served, in actuality had either no service or very little service, something that was considered underserved.”
As one of her first actions after taking office, Senator Capito launched her Capito Connect plan, which aims to bridge the digital divide across West Virginia.
Yesterday, at the weekly Republican Leadership Press Conference, Senator Capito spoke about the need for nationwide connectivity.
Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced its finalized broadband maps after more than 80,000 customers in West Virginia successfully challenged their coverage in the initial map that misrepresented their level of service. This updated mapping means more funding will be made to West Virginia to upgrade its broadband infrastructure through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Senator Capito also joined a Senate working group focused on expanding broadband access across the country last month.
In February, Senator Capito reintroduced the bipartisan Rural Broadband Protection Act to ensure internet service providers using federal funds can fulfill promises made to deploy broadband in unserved, underserved areas.
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