11.18.19

PHOTO: Capito, Facebook, State Officials Break Ground for Major Broadband Project

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

  11-18-2019 Resized Facebook Groundbreaking

BECKLEY, W.Va. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today joined state leaders and representatives from Facebook for a ceremonial groundbreaking for a major broadband project in southern West Virginia. Today’s groundbreaking is a result of Senator Capito’s announcement in March 2019 of Facebook’s plans to build a fiber optic cable that will run through parts of West Virginia.

The project is expected to result in an approximately 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. “I’m glad Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg followed through on his commitment he made to me during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing where I asked him to partner with West Virginia on rural fiber deployment. Builds like this are extremely important for our rural areas, because they provide these communities with the capacity to offer truly high-speed internet service. 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 groundbreaking brings us another step closer to achieving that goal.”

“I truly believe that we need to take every opportunity that we can to continue connecting West Virginia to the outside world. And increasing access to broadband, through a project of this magnitude, is the perfect way to do that,” Governor Justice said. “Access to high-speed internet opportunities will allow us to bring in new people and businesses, which will lead to more great jobs for countless hardworking West Virginians. It’s an exciting time for West Virginia and we’re honored to be able to work with a great company like Facebook to make this expansion possible. At the end of the day, we want more goodness for our people and to be able to give them access to opportunities. That’s exactly what this project will do.”

Facebook’s investment will significantly enhance fiber optic connectivity in West Virginia by establishing an approximate 275-mile route through the state. The construction is expected to last for roughly 18 to 24 months and will begin in Ashburn, Virginia. 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. The Facebook announcement marks the second long-haul fiber announcement in West Virginia in less than a year.
  • In 2015, Senator Capito launched her Capito Connect plan, which includes helping communities with accessing federal resources to build out broadband networks.

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