WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) unveiled her three-point Capito Connect Plan for bringing affordable, high-speed internet access to every home, business and classroom in West Virginia.

“High-speed internet access is a pillar of our 21st Century infrastructure and a gateway to economic growth in rural America,” said Senator Capito at a roundtable discussion in Fairmont. “When I was sworn into the Senate, I outlined my top priorities for strengthening West Virginia, and improving broadband is at the top of that list. Better connecting West Virginia through increased broadband access is imperative if we are going to compete and thrive, and my Capito Connect Plan is a roadmap for achieving this goal.”

A recent study by the Federal Communications Commission indicates that 56 percent of West Virginia residents do not have access to broadband services that meet its benchmarks. In rural areas of the state, this number is an even higher 74 percent.

The Capito Connect Plan outlines three steps for tackling this challenge:

  1. Understanding the Benefits of a Connected West Virginia
  • By listening to our communities, we can build a West Virginia-specific plan for achieving widespread broadband that meets the unique demands of our state.
  1. Fostering Collaboration between Government and the Private Sector
  • Broadband access will be the result of partnerships between private, local, state and federal agencies and organizations. Fostering collaboration will help eliminate duplicate and outdated programs so that West Virginia can efficiently deliver broadband services to communities.
  1. Promoting Economic Growth through Innovation
  • Broadband should be easily available and affordable for all West Virginians. This will require creative solutions to accommodate broadband users across all sectors, including schools, businesses and private citizens. Through innovative thinking and implementation, West Virginia will achieve the connectivity that will help boost our economy.

Click here to view the full Capito Connect Plan.

At today’s roundtable discussion, Senator Capito also announced that she will launch a listening tour to hear from individuals and organizations around the state about how to seize the potential broadband has to offer West Virginia. Senator Capito is also encouraging West Virginians to share their broadband story by submitting a comment here or writing to her office at one of the locations listed here.

Participants in today’s roundtable discussion included Ryan B. Palmer, Division Chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Telecommunications Access Policy Division; Mark DeFalco, Telecommunications Initiative Manager at the Appalachian Regional Commission; Richard Jenkins of the Rural Utilities Service; Shane Whitehair, Executive Director of the Region VII Regional Planning and Development Council; West Virginia State GIS Coordinator Tony Simental; Dr. Margaret Jaynes, Vice Chair of the West Virginia Telehealth Alliance; and Kenneth Kelly, a West Virginia small business owner.

Click here to view Senator Capito’s remarks as prepared for delivery.